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Australian schools to fight Asthma.



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Media Release Dr Michael Wooldridge Minister for Health and Aged Care

MW41/01 Thursday, 24 May, 2001

AUSTRALIAN SCHOOLS TO FIGHT ASTHMA "Australia has one of the highest rates of asthma in the world, with one in four children affected and about 10 percent of the adult population having the condition," the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Dr Michael Wooldridge, said today.

Dr Wooldridge said the Government was taking comprehensive action to address this national health issue - including the nationwide Asthma Friendly Schools program, which is a major Government initiative designed to fight one of Australia's most prevalent, but manageable conditions.

"Asthma can be a life-threatening condition and many children and adults do not have their asthma appropriately diagnosed and managed. Because the situation is so serious, asthma was declared by Australia's Health Ministers as a National Health Priority Area in 1999," Dr Wooldridge said.

The Asthma Friendly Schools program is a major Commonwealth Government health and education initiative which is run by Asthma Australia and the State/Territory Asthma Foundations. The program will see students and teachers in over 2,500 primary and secondary schools in Australia learn about the best ways to manage their asthma within the next two years. Ten thousand primary and secondary schools in metropolitan, rural and remote areas will be targeted within three to five years.

Asthma Friendly Schools program launches in Northern Territory, Western Australia and Tasmania

"With the introduction of the Asthma Friendly Schools program, it is expected that 40 schools in the Northern Territory, 700 schools in Western Australia and 200 schools in Tasmania will become asthma friendly within the next two years," Dr Wooldridge said.

Dr Wooldridge announced that New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia had launched their involvement in the innovative program in early May. With the launches of the Asthma Friendly Schools program in the Northern Territory today, in Western Australia on Wednesday and Tasmania on Thursday next week, and Queensland later in the year, all States and Territories will be covered by the Asthma Friendly Schools program.

Dr Wooldridge said an Asthma Friendly School is a school that adopts and works towards strategies that actively support the whole school community in the management of asthma and the Asthma Foundations are actively encouraging schools to become involved in the Asthma Friendly Schools program by visiting schools.

STATE AND TERRITORY LAUNCHES

Asthma Northern Territory launch of the Asthma Friendly Schools program, by Mrs Jeanette Anictomatis, Patron of Asthma NT - 24 May, 2001 at 12.30pm - Kormilda College Library, Darwin.

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Asthma Western Australia launch of the Asthma Friendly Schools program, by Ms Julie Bishop MP, Federal Member for Curtin - 30 May, 2001 at 10am - Perth Modern School Auditorium, Subiaco.

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Asthma Tasmania launch of the Asthma Friendly Schools program - 31 May, 2001 at 2pm -Wesley Vale Primary School, Wesley Vale (near Devonport). ●

For further information about the Asthma Friendly Schools program

To become part of the Asthma Friendly Schools program phone your local Asthma Foundation on 1800 645 130.

Further information is also available on the Internet, or by e-mail :

Asthma Victoria: www.asthma.org.au or afv@asthma.org.au ●

Asthma Western Australia: www.asthmawa.org.au or ask@asthmawa.org.au ●

Asthma South Australia: www.asthmasa.org.au or info@asthmasa.org.au ●

Asthma New South Wales: www.asthmansw.org.au or ask@asthmansw.org.au ●

Asthma Northern Territory: asthmant@mpx.com.au ●

Asthma Tasmania: asthmatas@bigpond.com ●

Asthma Queensland: admin@asthmaqld.org.au ●

Asthma Australia: www.asthmaaustralia.org.au ●

National Asthma Campaign: www.nationalasthma.org.au ●

Department of Health and Aged Care - asthma initiative: www.health.gov.au/hsdd/nhpq/asthma/index.htm ●

HealthInsite: www.healthinsite.gov.au ●

ASTHMA FACT SHEET

Asthma facts Asthma is a chronic condition with attacks occurring at varying intervals and with varying degrees of severity. Over many years, persistent asthma may cause permanent narrowing of the airways resulting in reduced response to available treatments. Severe acute attacks can result in death.

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In August 1999, Asthma was declared Australia's sixth National Health Priority Area (NHPA). The Commonwealth Government made a commitment in the 1999-2000 Budget to improve health outcomes for Australians with asthma by allocating funding of $8 million over three years to national initiatives. These commitments recognised the considerable burden that asthma places on the Australian community and acknowledged the extent and quality of the work being undertaken

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by the wide range of individuals, organisations and State and Territory Governments working together to improve quality of life and health outcomes for people with asthma.

Australia has been confirmed as having one of the highest rates of asthma in the world. ● There is a direct correlation between high standards of living and asthma (the prevalence of asthma is negligible in developing countries). ●

There is no cure for asthma - a condition affecting more than two million Australians. ● Two Australians die every day from asthma attacks. ● One in four primary school aged children has asthma - making it the most prevalent chronic childhood condition. ●

Asthma is one of the leading causes of childhood admission to hospital. ● Asthma also affects one in seven teenagers and one in ten adults. ● Asthma is one of the leading causes of absenteeism from school and work. ● Asthma at work costs the Australian community an estimated $11 million in direct absenteeism,

$88 million in caregiver absenteeism and a further $40 million in reduced effectiveness at work. ●

The total cost of asthma to the Australian community is estimated to be between $585 million and $720 million each year. ●

Asthma Friendly Schools

A school or college will be designated as 'asthma friendly' if strategies are adopted that work towards actively supporting the whole school community in the management of asthma.

These include:

running asthma education programs for staff, students and parents; ● displaying asthma First Aid posters; ● facilitating access to appropriate medication and spacer devices; ● keeping records for students with asthma; and ●

having a plan for managing asthma during school sporting activities, excursions or camps. ●

The program also encourages the use of a written asthma management plan to help lay the foundations for life-long self-management of asthma.

The Asthma Friendly Schools Program aims to:

Improve self-management skills in those students with asthma to enable them to participate fully in daily activities including regular exercise and sport; ●

Increase awareness of asthma among the whole student population, their parents/carers and teachers; ●

Improve the ability of schools and teachers to fulfil their duty of care obligations to those students with asthma; ●

Fit seamlessly into the health promotion curriculum of primary and secondary schools throughout Australia ●

Media Contact:

Office of Dr Wooldridge: Mr Craig Simonetto - 0411 261 627 ● Department of Health and Aged Care: Ms Robyn Hall - 02 6289 1254 ● Asthma Northern Territory: Ms Michelle Menzies - 08 8922 8827 ● Asthma Western Australia: Mr Matt Tweedie - 08 9481 1234 or 0412 905 144 ●

Asthma Tasmania: Ms Cathy Beswick - 03 6223 7725 or 0407 869 767 ●

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Published on Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care web site 24 May 2001 Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care URL: http://www.health.gov.au/mediarel/yr2001/mw/mw01041.htm