A strong public health infrastructure is essential to ensure adequate capacity and training to prevent asthma, promote asthma management, and to prepare for and respond to challenges to health. An adequate public health infrastructure should be prepared for and resilient to the impacts of climate change. This infrastructure should recognize that asthma is both a chronic and environmental disease while identifying cross-cutting risk factors that include addressing social determinants of health and asthma management for underserved disproportionally affected populations. It should also provide funding for comprehensive asthma programs, and promote the establishment, maintenance or enhancement of surveillance systems to monitor trends in asthma. In each state, multiple groups, agencies, and individuals are working on asthma, but sometimes their efforts are uncoordinated. Coordination among these groups is essential. By encouraging policymakers to help create a solid public health infrastructure, you could help all those affected by asthma and other lung diseases.
Here are three policy recommendations from the National Asthma Public Policy Agenda relating to public health infrastructure.
- Statewide asthma programs and partners should develop a strategic plan to document the problem, implement strategies, and assess progress.
- Statewide asthma programs should follow best practices outlined in CDC’s EXHALE Technical Package on implementing a comprehensive asthma program, including access to guidelines-based asthma care, expanded asthma self-management education in clinical and home visits, and environmental policies and practices to reduce exposure to asthma triggers.
- Statewide asthma programs should partner with multiple sectors, including health systems, housing, workplaces, schools, and childcare facilities, when implementing comprehensive asthma programs.
- Statewide asthma programs should implement the activities outlined in CDC’s EXHALE Guide for Public Health Professionals.
- Statewide asthma programs should identify and ensure they address asthma in underserved and disproportionately affected populations in their strategic plan and activities.
- Asthma surveillance systems should include the collection of asthma data at both the national and the state level.
- The asthma surveillance system should collect or coordinate with other agencies/organizations to obtain data and report measures that are nationally consistent by patients' age, sex, race, ethnicity, occupation, and socio-economic status.
- The asthma surveillance system should track asthma, prevalence, morbidity and mortality, and coordinate with other data gathering efforts.
- The asthma surveillance system should explore obtaining data from non-traditional sources, including federally qualified health centers (FQHC), government (Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program [CHIP]), private insurance, hospitals, and schools.
- Federal, state, and local governments should consider the current and future impacts of natural disasters and climate change on air quality in their natural disaster response plans and climate resilience plans.
- Federal, state, and local governments should include air quality experts and asthma control programs in their stakeholder engagement efforts when planning and implementing natural disaster response plans and climate resilience plans.
- Federal, state, and local governments should ensure that natural disaster response plans and climate resilience plans address populations with chronic lung conditions that may be disproportionately impacted by poor air quality.