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Doctors urge development of ‘clear, specific’ asthma treatment protocols

By Rayya Al Muheisen - Jan 10,2023 - Last updated at Jan 10,2023

Representative image (Photo courtesy of unsplash)

AMMAN — Doctors are calling for the creation of “clear and specific” protocols for asthma patients in emergency rooms and medical care centres nationwide.

According to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) website, asthma is a major noncommunicable disease (NCD), affecting both children and adults, and is the most common chronic disease among children.

Former health director at the Ministry of Health Abdel Rahman Shaher told The Jordan Times that healthcare providers should be extra cautious when giving asthma patients a treatment plan. 

“There’s no cure for asthma, but treatment can help control the symptoms,” Shaher noted. 

Asthma symptoms include inflammation and narrowing of the small airways, which can contribute to any combination of cough, wheeze, shortness of breath or chest tightness, Shaher said.

Drugs that manage asthma reduce inflammation in the airways, he added.

“Patients are given quick relief inhalers and a long-term management plan,” Shaher stated.

According to Shaher, the Ministry of Health provides both long-term management drugs and inhalers for asthma patients.

“Patients under the age of six are given free insurance at the ministry,” Shaher said.

An effective asthma treatment plan requires routinely tracking symptoms and measuring how well the patient’s lungs are working. Therefore, patients need a specific action plan that can serve as an asthma treatment guide tailored to the patient’s needs, he said.

“Patients also need routine checkups with their doctors,” Shaher added. 

Asthma is more commonly found among children, and in most cases, symptoms disappear with time, he said. 

Mohammed Tarawneh, a pulmonary, respiratory and intensive care diseases specialist and respiratory infection expert, is urging the healthcare sector to develop clear systems for treating asthma patients.

“Although asthma is a chronic disease that has been around for ages, specific and clear directions and protocols should be followed by healthcare providers in light of the global surge in respiratory viruses,” Tarawneh told The Jordan Times.

Tarawneh highlighted that setting a clear protocol for asthma patients will help reduce financial burden on the health sector. 

According to Tarawneh, the costs associated with asthma treatment are quite large compared with other diseases in terms of medication, inhalers and the cost of hospitalisation.

“Early detection, diagnoses and setting a baseline treatment plan will definitely reduce symptoms, as well as cost of treatment,” Tarawneh added.

Asthma is a chronic disease, meaning that the symptoms might disappear for years and then reoccur, Tarawneh said.

According to the WHO, most asthma-related deaths occur in low- and lower-middle-income countries, where under-diagnosis and under-treatment is a challenge.

Despite several attempts by The Jordan Times to contact the Health Ministry to get statistics and insights they were not available to comment.

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