Sidra Medicine, HMC Publish Study on Asthma Among Children in Qatar

Sidra Medicine, HMC Publish Study on Asthma Among Children in Qatar By A Robin - May 02, 2023
Sidra Medicine

Sidra Medicine

Sidra Medicine and Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) have published an examination of the growing prevalence of pediatric asthma cases in Qatar, including data on the rising rates of allergic rhinitis and eczema.

The study, funded by HMC and led by Chair of Medical Education and Division Chief of Pulmonology at Sidra Medicine Professor Ibrahim Janahi, collected data from more than 6,500 participants across Qatar. This included nearly 2,650 children, split into groups aged between 6-7 years and 13-14 years, as well as 3,831 parents or guardians.

Compared to a previous study conducted by Prof. Janahi, the latest study reported on prevalence rate differences over more than a decade (2005-2017) and showed a noticeable increase in diagnosed asthma (34.6 percent vs. 19.8 percent) and diagnosed eczema rates (37.4 percent vs. 22.5 percent). However, this was not the case for allergic rhinitis which remained the same (30.9 percent vs. 30.5 percent).

While the overall findings of the study were found to be consistent with the upward trend found in similar studies conducted in neighboring countries, the rates of asthma in school children were higher in Qatar. The findings of the Qatar based study are concurrent with the increase in prevalence rates reported in other areas in the world, such as Mexico, South Africa and Bangkok, Latin America and Africa.

Prof. Janahi stressed said that "with cases above 300 million worldwide, asthma is considered a global public health challenge," explaining that among children, asthma is the most common chronic disease, with a constant burden on healthcare systems due to rising prevalence rates.

"However, while the new data is noteworthy, there is no cause for alarm, only vigilance," he added, noting that healthcare providers, parents, the wider community including the public and private sector, can all play a role in ensuring children as well as adults with asthma, have the right support systems and resources in place.

He pointed out that, in Qatar, there are a number of schools that are enrolled in the Asthma-friendly Schools Program, a fantastic initiative from Qatar's Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) in collaboration with the Ministry of Education.

"We also want to advise parents that if they are concerned about their children having asthma or allergies to first visit their primary care physician instead of going to the emergency department, except if the child has an asthma attack," he added.

Prof. Janahi stressed that Qatar has a robust referral system in place to ensure children have access to the right care at the right time.

MOPH's Asthma-friendly Schools Program operates throughout Qatar and helps children take advantage of the school's medical facilities. The program's primary goal is to improve the quality of life and health outcomes for children with asthma. Aimed at children of 6-12 year-old who suffer from the disease, it supports the development of their coping skills and helps improve their lives.

For his part, Post-Doctoral Research Scientist at Hamad Medical Corporation Dr. Samer Hammoudeh, who is one of the authors of the study, said that "although there is no cure for asthma, with good management, people living with asthma can lead normal, active lives." "The findings of this study will help inform and support our ongoing commitment to ensure we have the very latest treatments and the best services in place for children diagnosed with asthma and their parents, " he added.

Research Specialist from the Medical Services Division at Sidra Medicine Dr. Yahya Hani, who is also one of the authors of the study said "given the gap between similar studies, it is important to understand that the parameters and the methodologies for collecting the data have changed over the past decade, and although the study was not designed to explore potential reasons for the rising case numbers, it is recommended that future research focuses on looking into the various factors contributing to the cases of asthma, allergic rhinitis, and eczema in Qatar." "We also hope that the findings will guide Qatar's healthcare polices and provide a foundation for preventive strategies from both the private and public sector," Dr. Hani added.


By A Robin - May 02, 2023

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