Ben Ezechime, Enugu
The Amaka Chiwuike-Uba Foundation (ACUF) says non-availability of modern asthma medicines and persistent poverty are the bane of most asthma patients within the country.
The Chairman of Board of ACUF Foundation, Dr Chiwuike Uba, said this in a press conference on Thursday in Enugu announcing the forthcoming 2023 Amaka Chiwuike-Uba International Asthma Conference, to be held on Thursday, July 20, 2023, in Enugu.
Uba said that in the country, “the profound lack of recommended asthma medicines in pharmacies is highly worrisome.”
According to him, the available medicines, such as oral corticosteroids, have multiple adverse side effects; while the oral salbutamol formulations are associated with side effects such as tremors and cardiac arrhythmias and may promote recurrent exacerbation and the risk of asthma mortality.
He said: “Unfortunately, these oral formulations are on the Nigerian Essential Medical List (EML) which is clearly out of tune with the current recommendations by WHO. None of the medicines that are the mainstay of treatment for asthma is available in Nigeria.
“The drivers for the high availability of oral salbutamol and other non-guideline recommended treatment for asthma in Nigeria may be related to the poverty, poor knowledge and non-application of guideline-based care among doctors who continue to prescribe these medications.
“Due to the lack of access to asthma medications in Nigeria, occasioned by availability and affordability issues, the level of asthma control in Nigeria is poor with a high burden of asthma symptoms, limitation in activities and mortality.”
The chairman said that solving the impending challenge in asthma treatment lies in the up-scale of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), which would guarantee affordable, quality, equitable and sustainable primary healthcare, supported by health financing.
He said: “Therefore, increased public spending, private sector investments, and universal health insurance are panacea to achieving universal health coverage – managing health inequalities and risks for the poor, vulnerable and marginalised populations.
“The UHC will also reduce poverty and avoidable annual deaths and morbidity.
“Therefore, in realisation of and on the need to address these key components of healthcare systems and management; especially health financing and universal health coverage, the theme for the 2023 Amaka Chiwuike-Uba Annual Asthma Conference has been chosen as “Future in the Past: Health Financing and Universal Health Coverage.”
On the forthcoming conference, Uba said that the conference would bring over 500 participants together, who are local, national and global experts and organizations in the public health and health financing sectors.
“Dignitaries that will grace the event included: former Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole; Dr Uche Ojinmah, President, Nigerian Medical Association; Prof. Obinna Onwujekwe, Professor of Health Economics, Systems and Policy and Tonya Winders, President, Global Allergy Asthma Patient Platform (GAAPP) among others.
“We will be having officials of Federal and state ministries of health, finance and planning, environment, education and other national and sub-national government representatives; multilateral and bilateral development partners and foundations,” he added.