For Asthma Awareness Month 2013, the National Institutes of Health stands with the international community to renew our dedication to improving the quality of life for the estimated 300 million people living with asthma worldwide. To most effectively manage asthma, we need to address the disproportionate impact of the disease on minorities and families at or below the poverty line. NIH is committed to reducing asthma disparities and improving asthma control for all who live with the disease.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI); National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID); Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD); and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) are the lead NIH institutes that support the research to understand the causes and progression of asthma and optimal treatment. Since the 2012 release of the Coordinated Federal Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Asthma Disparities, we have worked alongside our partner federal agencies to implement the plan's recommendations. Our institutes may support different aspects of asthma research, but we are united in our goal to reduce the burden of asthma on low-income and minority families, especially children.
Ongoing efforts include:
- NHLBI's clinical research network is examining different responses to asthma medications among African-Americans. The recently launched Consortium on Asthma among African-Ancestry Populations in the Americas is developing a powerful gene chip to identify genes driving asthma disparities in this understudied population.
- NIAID's Inner-City Asthma Consortium designs and implements immune-based therapies for asthma and conducts studies to define and treat the disease in inner-city children. ICAC is the third consecutive inner-city asthma research program funded by NIAID since 1991.
- NIEHS and its partners continue to reduce children's asthma rates in New Orleans and surrounding parishes that were severely impacted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. By offering NIH-funded, evidence-based asthma interventions to children and caretakers, the Head-Off Environmental Asthma in Louisiana study has improved asthma symptoms and conditions in children.
- NICHD and its partners are exploring how asthma develops in the earliest stages of life-from conception to 2 years of age-with the hope of implementing strategies to prevent asthma before it begins.
These studies represent only a small portion of NIH efforts to reduce the global burden of asthma for all socioeconomic groups, and we acknowledge all those who help make this work possible. We commend the NIH-supported investigators who continue to make significant progress in asthma research. We also express our gratitude to all the volunteers who have participated in NIH-sponsored asthma clinical studies, as well as to those organizations that provide support and guidance for everyone affected by the disease. Together, we can achieve our shared mission to develop effective strategies for the diagnosis, management and, ultimately, prevention of asthma.