Asthma: WHO Role and Activities


The way forward and the role of the WHO

WHO recognizes asthma as a disease of major public health importance and plays a unique role in the co-ordination of international efforts against the disease. International action is needed to:

WHO activities

International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC): WHO collaborates in ISAAC and, more particularly, in the implementation of the study in developing countries with areas of severe air pollution. A preliminary objective is to obtain information on the association between childhood asthma and air pollution. The first results of this study have shown the prevalence of asthma symptoms to vary from 1.6% to 36.8%.

Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA): In 1992, WHO and the US-based National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute jointly formed GINA to cut deaths and disability by developing and implementing an optimal strategy for asthma management and prevention. Since its inception GINA has:

WHO Initiative on Allergic Rhinitis and its Impact on Asthma (ARIA): WHO is developing a strategy for the prevention of bronchial asthma through the management of allergic rhinitis. The strategy was conceived by specialists from all over the world at a December 1999 meeting on ARIA.

Allergic rhinitis is defined as an allergen-induced inflammation of the membranes lining the nose. Based on the time of exposure to the allergen, allergic rhinitis can be subdivided into perennial, seasonal or occupational disease.

Three statements must be taken into account for the successful prevention of bronchial asthma:

Generally speaking, ARIA will broaden the perspectives for primary prevention of bronchial asthma and will promote better understanding of bronchial asthma among physicians and patients.

The specific goals of ARIA are defined as follows:

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