One in four parents struggles to pay for their child’s essential asthma medication

MORE than a quarter of parents are struggling to pay for their child’s essential asthma medication, and some have to forgo it because of the cost, putting them at risk of a potentially serious attack, a major survey shows today.

Not taking medication for asthma – a disease that affects one in ten children in Ireland – can lead to a serious worsening of symptoms such as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, putting the youngster at risk of a dangerous asthma attack.

The results of a wide-ranging survey by the Asthma Society of Ireland come amid growing concern about the delayed treatment of children with asthma due to Covid-19 and confusion among both teachers and sports trainers about how to safely treat an asthma attack.

It found that 5 percent of parents did not buy asthma medication for their children because they could not afford it. Another 16 percent cut back on essentials to buy asthma medication for their children.

The Asthma Society has advocated the inclusion of asthma medications in the management of long-term conditions since 1973.

Chief Executive Sarah O Connor said the Government must now at least fulfill its obligation to review the program as part of the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy.

The results of the ‘Is Ireland a Safe Country for Children with Asthma’ survey showed:

  • About 23 percent of parents or caregivers have had to visit a hospital emergency room at least once in the last year to treat their child’s asthma.
  • One in four children waiting to see a counselor faces a three-year delay.
  • The frequency of attacks suggests that many children have uncontrolled asthma
  • Up to 3 percent of parents surveyed said they felt anxiety about dealing with their child’s asthma — and 28 percent said they experienced that anxiety “always or often.”
  • Parent reports show that 20 percent of children are always or often afraid of having a seizure.
  • About 22 percent of children always or often worry about exercising if it triggers their asthma.

Ms O’Connor said the results, released to coincide with Asthma Awareness Week, “speak volumes about Ireland’s status as an ‘asthma-safe’ country for children”.

She said: “In a year when the pediatric treatment model for asthma is being developed by the HSE, we feel it is essential to point out that Ireland is not currently an ‘asthma safe country’ for children.

“We are very concerned that parents are reporting that they are being forced to choose between their children’s essentials and medications.

“The rising cost of living will no doubt force parents to make tougher decisions if the cost of asthma medication is not adequately addressed.”

The Asthma Society will present further findings from the survey to Minister Josepha Madigan at a meeting next week to discuss asthma management in nurseries and schools.

“It is vital that childhood asthma is taken seriously as a disease and that pervasive misconceptions that put children’s lives at risk are addressed. Schools and day care centers are very important places – our children need them to be ‘asthma-safe’ for our society.”

dr Dermot Nolan, a GP with a particular interest in respiratory medicine and a former ICGP asthma leader, said: “It is important that parents, carers, educators and athletic coaches are informed about a child’s day-to-day asthma management, that an asthma action plan is in place and that all carers know how to do it can help in the event of an asthma emergency.

“Only more than half actually knew the steps of the five-step rule. Parents, carers, teachers, SNAs and the general public need this information available to them if Ireland is to be ‘asthma safe’ for everyone and every child.

“It is important to remember that asthma still kills one person every five days in Ireland, so it is important that patients take the medication prescribed and seek medical attention within 24 hours of an asthma attack.

“I was concerned about the results of the survey, which showed that 37 percent of children were not seen by a healthcare professional within 24 hours of an asthma attack. Our children need a healthcare system that can guarantee timely access to medical care to deal with a respiratory emergency.”

If you are unsure about your child’s asthma, your GP can help you create an asthma action plan.

The Asthma Society urges the Irish public to attend their upcoming webinar on childhood asthma and allergies this Thursday 5 May from 7-8pm as part of Asthma Awareness Week 2022. One in four parents struggles to pay for their child’s essential asthma medication

Fry Electronics Team

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