A School Asthma and Allergy Survey of 732 students was conducted in a primary school in 2007 by the PCS. The results showed that 14% of the students were asthmatics (diagnosed by a doctor, were using some form of asthma medication or had been admitted to hospital for an asthma attack). Another 16% of the students had symptoms suggestive of asthma (wheezing, chest tightness, exercise induced cough, night time cough) and would need to be evaluated by their family doctors.
From the above survey we know that asthma is relatively common problem among school children. This is the main reason why PCS is embarking on the Asthma Friendly School (AFS) project. We need to stress that asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways where there is no cure and asthma needs to be diagnosed and controlled early during childhood to prevent permanent airway damage in adulthood.
The AFS project will be launched in conjunction with Perak Lung Health Day 2013 on Sunday 19th May at the Sultan Abdul Aziz Recration Park (Polo Ground) in Ipoh.
Uncontrolled asthma is a leading cause of school absenteeism. It also causes poor school performance and disruptions for the entire class. School staff members, parents and guardians can play an active role in helping students with asthma manage their disease in school.
Students with controlled asthma function optimally in school. They register better school attendances, remain more attentive during lessons and obtain better exam grades. They have fewer symptoms and are able to participate fully in physical activities. They enjoy field trips and have fewer medical emergencies.
Students in schools which practise good asthma management are able to:
• Take their asthma medication exactly as prescribed.
• Recognize the symptoms and signs of uncontrolled asthma.
• Identify and avoid asthma triggers.
• Monitor asthma with a peak flow meter.
• Act immediately on recognising the early symptoms and signs of an asthma attack.
• Co-manage their asthma with parents, guardians, doctors and school staff.
Please pause awhile and answer the questions below with a “yes” or “no” to find out how asthma friendly is your school or child’s school.
• Is your school free of tobacco smoke at all times?
• Does the school maintain good indoor air quality? Does it reduce or eliminate allergens and irritants that can make asthma worse?
• Is there a designated school staff member who is able to give the school guidance on medicines, physical education and field trips for students with asthma?
• Can students take medicines at school as recommended by their doctor and parents? Can students carry their own asthma medicines?
• Does your school have a written, individualized emergency plan for each student? Does the plan make clear what action to take during a severe asthma attack? Whom to call? When to call?
• Does someone teach school staff about asthma, asthma management plans, and asthma medicines? Does someone teach all students about asthma and how to help a classmate who has it?
• Do students with exercise-induced asthma have access to their medicine before exercise? Can they choose or modify physical activities when medically necessary?
If the answer to any question above is “no”, students in the school may be facing obstacles to asthma management. Please contact the Perak Chest Society to obtain further information and assistance.
This booklet is created to assist students, parents, guardians and school staff in asthma management. It offers practical information but is not a textbook on asthma management. Please consult the doctor who is looking after the student’s medical needs for more information.
Lastly, I would like to acknowledge with a big “thank you” a whole list of people and companies who laboured tirelessly, sponsored generously and helped make this Asthma Friendly School project possible. The students with asthma appreciate your care.
Dr. Leong Oon Keong
Perak Chest Society.
1st March 2013