Controlling asthma mitigates the burden of the disease on families and health care costs to some extent. Yet better asthma control cannot be the only goal of public health research and programs: efforts to prevent new cases of asthma are an imperative if we are to reduce the burden of asthma and its disproportionate impacts on populations whose socioeconomic status puts them at higher risk of a range of health conditions. With progress on asthma control underway, it is time to step up research and programming to prevent new cases of asthma.
In Massachusetts, that work has begun, led by the Lowell Center.
To date we have:
- Assessed the weight of the evidence on risk factors associated with the initial onset of asthma.
- Convened a major symposium of organizations from across the “system” that are engaged in or affected by asthma: asthma researchers, asthma coalitions, organizations representing communities, tenants and workers, and local, state and federal government agencies with responsibility for environmental, health, educational and housing policy and programs.
- Worked with symposium participants, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the statewide asthma coalition to develop a “roadmap” for the primary prevention of asthma, which includes near and longer-term strategies, eleven objectives and over 70 actions. This roadmap was reflected in Goal 5 of the state's strategic plan for asthma, 2015-2020. Fifty organizations committed to implementing it. Because it is the first of its kind in any state, there has been wide interest across the country in its process and content.