Published May 16, 2011
May is Asthma Awareness Month. Thirty-one days dedicated to raising awareness about this common, chronic and potentially life-threatening condition affecting about 25 million people.
Asthma is a serious and costly health issue that has an estimated annual cost of $19.7 billion – nearly $10 billion in direct health care costs and $8 billion for indirect costs (lost earnings due to illness or death). (Source: The Costs of Asthma, Asthma and Allergy Foundation 1992 and 1998 Study, 2000 Update)
Earlier this month, government researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new study showing asthma rates have risen dramatically since 2001. The study also found the increase was present in every demographic group – men, women, blacks, whites and Hispanics – affecting one in 12 of all Americans and one in 10 school-aged children.
Although researchers could not explain why asthma is on the rise, in recent years many scientists believe environmental pollution may be a contributing factor. Tobacco smoke, pesticides and harsh, toxic cleaning products – commonly used in homes, schools, businesses and medical facilities – lead to poor indoor air quality and can trigger and exacerbate asthma symptoms.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
• Asthma is the most common chronic condition among children.
• Each day, 11 Americans die from asthma, totaling over 4,000 asthma-related deaths each year. Asthma is a contributing factor in another 7,000 deaths.
• Asthma is the leading cause of school absenteeism and the fourth leading cause of work absenteeism resulting in nearly 12 million missed or less productive workdays each year.
• Asthma accounts for more than 10 million outpatient visits and 500,000 hospitalizations. Nearly half (44 percent) of all asthma hospitalizations are for children and is the third-ranking cause of hospitalization in children.
• Since 1980, 0 among all genders, age groups and ethnic groups. The death rate for children under 19 years has increased by nearly 80 percent.
Some positive news on this topic is happening in East Harlem, in the heart of New York City. East Harlem has the highest rate of childhood asthma and the highest rate of pediatric asthma hospitalizations in the country.
For more than 30 years, the Boriken Neighborhood Health Center --a program of the East Harlem Council for Human Services, Inc. – has been providing primary health care services to the underserved in this community. So it is fitting that during Asthma Awareness Month, facilities like the Boriken Neighborhood Health Center be recognized and supported for the valuable service it provides to this community.
Last October, through the Affordable Care Act, the Boriken Neighborhood Health Center was awarded the $12 million in capital funds needed to create the first of its kind Green primary care center in New York City. When completed The Center will become a 24-hour urgent care facility and provide other services that include; asthma treatment, pediatric, OB/GYN, internal medicine and geriatric care, a dental, dermatology and podiatry clinic, and a variety of other social services to the thousands of medically underserved residents living in East Harlem.
In an area in where inner city children suffer disproportionately from environmental insults and the incidence of asthma is the highest in the country, the Boriken Neighborhood Health Center will stand as a shining example of how health care should be delivered -- in a non-toxic healing environment.
Deirdre Imus is the Founder and President of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health CenterTM at Hackensack University Medical Center and Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer. Deirdre is the author of four books, including three national bestsellers. She is a frequent speaker on green living and children’s health issues, and is a contributor to FoxNewsHealth.com. For more information go to www.dienviro.com