Asthma incidence is increasing worldwide, especially among children, and by 2025 it is predicted that asthma will be affecting around 400 million people (WHO). Qatar and other GCC countries have a high rate of asthma which may be attributable to a rapid change in lifestyle, dietary habits or higher exposure to indoor allergens, tobacco smoke, dust and sandstorms.
A cross sectional study in Qatar conducted among 3,283 school children in 2005, revealed a high prevalence of diagnosed asthma (19.8%). Although the hospitalization rates for childhood asthma are significantly lower than in some other high income nations such as the US, asthma accounted for 10% of the respiratory conditions for children less than 5 years of age.
Respiratory conditions including asthma and obstructive pulmonary disease adversely affect the quality of life of many people in Qatar, a large proportion of these being children. People with asthma are at risk of developing complications from respiratory infections such as influenza and pneumonia. There is no cure for asthma, but once it is properly diagnosed and a treatment plan is in place it is possible to manage the condition, and quality of life will improve.
Respiratory Diseases Objectives
Reducing the high rates of respiratory disease in Qatar will require not only improved primary care services, but also working in specific settings where children spend significant amounts of time, such as childcare settings and schools. The Environmental Health Objectives will also play a key role in reducing the burden of respiratory diseases, most notably thorough improving air quality. Additionally, raising public awareness about respiratory diseases is a key priority. For example, it is important that people are aware that lifestyle habits such as smoking increase the risk of developing these conditions.