Continuing Medical Education

The increasing burden of asthma in South African children: A call to action

R Masekela, C L Gray, R J Green, A I Manjra, F E Kritzinger, M Levin, H Zar; on behalf of the South African Childhood Asthma Working Group (SACAWG)

Abstract


Background. Asthma is a heterogeneous condition characterised by chronic inflammation and variable expiratory airflow limitation, as well as airway reversibility. The burden of asthma in children is increasing in low- and middle-income countries and remains under-recognised and poorly managed.

Objectives. To quantify the burden of asthma in the South African (SA) population and identify the risk factors associated with disease severity in the local context.

Methods. The SA Childhood Asthma Working Group (SACAWG) convened in January 2017 with task groups, each headed by a section leader, constituting the editorial committee on assessment of asthma epidemiology, diagnosis, control, treatments, novel treatments and self-management plans. The epidemiology task group reviewed the available scientific literature and assigned evidence according to the Grades of Recommendation Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) system.

Conclusions. Asthma in children remains a common condition, which has shown an increasing prevalence in urban and rural populations of SA. Of concern is that almost half of children in urban communities experience severe asthma symptoms, and many asthmatics lack a formal diagnosis and thus access to treatment. Exposure to tobacco smoke and living in highly polluted areas increase the severity of wheezing in young children.

Authors' affiliations

R Masekela, Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital and Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, School of Clinical Medicine, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

C L Gray, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, and Medical Research Council Unit on Child and Adolescent Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

R J Green, Steve Biko Academic Hospital and Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa

A I Manjra, Private Practice, Life Westville Hospital, Durban, South Africa

F E Kritzinger, Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital, Cape Town; Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

M Levin, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, and Medical Research Council Unit on Child and Adolescent Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

H Zar; on behalf of the South African Childhood Asthma Working Group (SACAWG), Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, and Medical Research Council Unit on Child and Adolescent Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

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Keywords

Medicine; Paediatrics; Public health; Epidemiology; Asthma; Children; Africa; South Africa; Retrospective review

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2018;108(7):537-539. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2018.v108i7.13162

Article History

Date submitted: 2018-06-26
Date published: 2018-06-26

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