~Asthmatics in the State suffering despite the availability and affordability of world-class asthma treatment ~
In an initiative to raise awareness on asthma and provide free lung tests and doctor consultation to the masses, Cipla, one of the leading pharmaceutical companies flagged-off the ‘Breathe Free Yatra – A clinic-on-wheels’ from Chennai today. Equipped with diagnostic tools, educational materials and a team of counselors; the Breathefree Yatra will travel across eight cities in Tamil Nadu offering free respiratory check-ups with the support of doctors in each of these locations viz Vellore, Salem, Coimbatore, Trichy, Madurai, Tirunelveli and Nagercoil.
Asthma affects over 30milllion lives in India, of whom majority are either undiagnosed or do not have their asthma under control. “The paradox of asthma in India is that despite the availability and affordability of world-class treatment, this totally controllable disease is depriving the asthmatics in the country of a normal life; many a times subjecting them to traumatic attacks, hospitalization and even resulting in deaths. And the scenario in Chennai is also the same,” said Dr. P. K Thomas, Consultant Pulmonologist. Citing the reasons, he explained, “Many people treat symptoms like recurrent coughing, early morning coughing, breathlessness, and wheezing themselves, with cough medicines or over-the-counter drugs. Also, there is immense fear associated with the word ‘asthma’ and ‘inhalers’ and it is this inhibition towards the disease and its correct treatment that is leading to the suffering. The 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. Further, a doctor might have to prescribe oral tablets to majority of his patients to ensure that they don’t give up entirely on the treatment due to fears 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.” He further emphasized, “Total control of asthma is possible and we as a nation must together break the myths on asthma and inhalers. We hope that Tamil Nadu participates and probably leads this transformation.”
Asthma has evolved as the most common chronic disease in children and today almost 1 out of 10 children in India has asthma. Commenting on the scenario in Chennai, Dr. A. Balachandran, Consultant Paediatrician & Pulmonologist said, “Initiation of inhalation therapy to an asthmatic child at the earliest helps in controlling the disease, prevents him from attacks, preserves the condition of his lungs and also improves the overall quality of his life. However, currently most asthma cases in Chennai are being prolonged with oral tablets and injections due to lack of acceptance towards inhaled medicines. It is the educated and affluent parents who are more difficult to be convinced on inhalation therapy. Firstly, they perceive asthma as a lifelong condition as they draw instances from their parents or grandparents suffering from the condition which is different from pediatric asthma. Also, this segment is internet savvy and may gather half-baked information from search results which also list incorrect details.” He further added, “A doctor might therefore have to take out additional time for an asthmatic patient for proper counseling. Besides understanding the multiple triggers for the child, it is of utmost importance that the parent learns from the doctor the correct inhaler techniques to deliver the medicine. Asthma in a child, if diagnosed and treated early, could be reversed.”
To support asthma patients and their families in understanding 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 by Cipla in 7 languages, including Tamil. The BreatheFree Yatra in the 8 cities will leave behind canopies, where the free check-up service could still be availed by the masses. Additionally, people in Tamil Nadu could volunteer and invite Breathefree to their residential colonies, schools or offices for a free lung check-up service, by registering on the above website.
Cipla laid foundations for the Indian pharmaceutical industry back in 1935 with the vision to make India self-reliant in healthcare. Over the years Cipla has emerged as one of the most respected names not just in India but worldwide. Its state of the art R&D centre has given the country and the world many firsts. This includes the revolutionary AIDS cocktail for less than a dollar a day. With over 50 manufacturing units across the country, Cipla manufactures over 2000 products in 80 therapies.
With a turnover of over US $ 1 billion, Cipla serves doctors and patients in over 183 countries. It has earned a name for maintaining one global standard across all its products and services. Cipla continues to support, improve and save millions of lives with its high-quality drugs and innovative devices. (www.cipla.com).
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