Staff Reporter

Industrial workers have 60 per cent incidence of asthma, says report

CHENNAI: The Respiratory Research Foundation of India (RRFI), which has been in the forefront of the awareness campaign on common respiratory disorders such as asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and tuberculosis, celebrates its fifth anniversary on Saturday.

Founded on June 10, 2001 by a set of physicians including R. Narasimhan, Chitale and Lalith Shah, the Foundation's motto is, "TB is curable, asthma controllable and smoking avoidable."

While awareness on major respiratory disorders has been improving, the management of asthma continues to be frustrated by stigma and erroneous notions. Though the problems caused by asthma can be prevented, many parents of asthmatic children still refuse to accept a diagnosis of asthma because of this.

Slow acceptance

The slow acceptance of inhalation therapy is the other point of concern. While a fraction of patients access modern treatment, millions who depend on state-sector institutions are unable to find optimal care.

With the cost of treatment that works out to around Rs. 300 a month it is pointed out that while the monthly amount would appear significant, the investment is worth more when weighed against the potential clinic visits and loss of man days associated with asthma.

However, the cost of inhalation therapy is not the only reason why more asthmatics are not taking inhalers.

The results of a 15-point questionnaire distributed by the foundation some time ago found that 50 per cent were not informed that steroids should be used regularly and only 30 per cent used inhalers as advised.

While 42 per cent of the patients used inhalers on a need basis alone, 10 per cent did not use it under the impression that it led to steroid addiction, was bad for the heart or was to be used sparingly.

Screening initiatives among construction workers, carpenters, painters and other industrial workers have established a 60 per cent incidence of asthma and the smoking-induced COPD.

It has so far conducted 95 such camps with the assistance of philanthropists and organisations like the Rotary Club of Madras North West.

In its first overseas outreach, a team of physicians designated by the foundation visited Colombo in May to conduct a screening camp.

The foundation can be reached at 24748616 or on the web at www.rrfindia.org

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