Kolhapur to break out of the shackles of asthma and breathe easy

14th August, 2013 | Kolhapur

'Breathe Free clinic on wheels' to initiate awareness and education regarding asthma and world class treatment options

In an one of its kind, intensive initiative to raise awareness on air pollution triggers of asthma and its ramifications on health, Cipla, one of the leading pharmaceutical companies flagged-off the ‘Breathefree – A clinic-on-wheels’ from Kolhapur starting 8th August. Equipped with diagnostic tools, educational materials and a team of expert counselors; the BreathefreeYatra will travel acrosskey cities inMaharashtra touching upon the Kolhapur and Satara district. This clinic will be offering free respiratory check-ups and doctor consultation to the masses in each of these locations vizGargoti, Kagal, Bambarde, Patan, Chinchni, and concluding at Bhiunj in Satara district.

This mobile clinic was stationed at local market places to facilitate public convenience.  Nearly 1000 people got their respiratory health assessed out of which 438 suffered from Asthma.Free doctor consultation was given tothem.  The Breathe Free clinic on wheels adjudged the candidate’s lung power by using a simple portable device called Peak Flow meter.

Dr. Sanjay Pawar, General Physician, ShriRatna Hospital, says, “The paradox of asthma in India is that despite the availability and affordability of world-class treatment, people are averse to taking it. Asthma, a totally controllable disease, is depriving million asthmatics in the country of a normal life. Many a times, delayed diagnosis results in traumatic attacks, hospitalization and even deaths. Unfortunately, the scenario in Maharashtra is worse.”

Asthma is the chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways associated with increased hyper-responsiveness, recurrent episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing, particularly at night/early morning. Asthma is symptomized as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, sensation of chest tightness causing pain or pressure.

According to WHO global estimates, 300 million people suffer from asthma whereas 255,000 people have succumbed to this condition due to delayed diagnosis. Many people ineffectively treat symptoms like recurrent coughing, early morning coughing, breathlessness, and wheezing themselves, with cough medicines or over-the-counter drugs. Immense fear is associated with the word ‘asthma’ and ‘inhalers’ and it is this inhibition towards the disease and its correct treatment that is leading to the prolonged suffering of patients.

Health care professionals and doctors at times find it difficult to convince the patient and therefore use an alternative term for ‘asthma’ like ‘bronchial spasms’ or ‘wheezing cough’ etc. to pronounce the diagnosis.

Dr. Mohan Potdar, Chief Physician, Dr. Mohan Potdar Clinic  says, “A doctor generally has to prescribe oral tablets to a majority of his patients to ensure that they don’t give up entirely on the treatment due to stigma associated with inhalers. It is indeed questionable that why almost 80% of asthmatics in India are on oral tablets whereas the rest of the world treats asthma primarily with inhalers. Total control of asthma is possible and we as a nation must together break the myths on asthma and inhalers.”

This initiative aims to mobilize masses to understand asthma, its symptoms, the triggers, and to remove the myths associated with the condition and its therapy. An extremely informative website – www.breathefree.com has been created in 7 languages, to facilitate the same. The Breathe free – Clinic on wheels will leave behind canopies, where the free check-up service could still be availed of by the masses. Additionally, people could volunteer and invite Breathefree to their residential colonies, schools or offices for a free lung check-up service, by registering on the abovementioned website.