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

Pune, 21st August, 2013

Cipla initiated 'Breathefree clinic on wheels' created awareness and education regarding asthma and its world class treatment option

In an one of a kind, intensive initiative to raise awareness on air pollution triggers of asthma and its ramifications on health, Cipla, one of the leading pharmaceutical company flagged-off the ‘Breathefree – A clinic-on-wheels’ from Pune on 14th August till 21st August 2013. Equipped with diagnostic tools, educational materials and a team of expert counselors; the Breathefree Yatra travelled across various districts in Pune namely Alephata, Junnar, Belha, Rajhani, Narayangaon, and concluding finally at Khed ( Rajgurunagar) district. This clinic will be offering free respiratory check-ups and doctor consultation to the masses in each of these locations.  

More than 720 people got their respiratory health screened for any problems whereas 200 suspected cases of asthma came to the fore. These people were given free of cost doctor consultation to assess their condition.

Treading across these interior districts of Pune, the Breathefree clinic on wheels also adjudged the candidate’s lung power by using a simple portable device called Peak Flow meter. The candidate had to blow in to the device’s mouthpiece; the resultant reading called the lung capacity was recorded. Recording a lower score indicated poor lung capacity and poor asthma control.

Dr Yuvraj Bhade, General Physician 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 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 Vinayak Khedekar 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.