LIMA – Some 30 percent of Peruvian children suffer from asthma, a serious public health problem exacerbated by misinformation and myth, physicians and researchers told EFE Thursday on the sidelines of a conference on respiratory illnesses at the British Embassy in Lima.
Rafael Reaño, medical affairs manager in the respiratory division of pharmaceutical giant GSK, said that while asthma is caused by multiple factors, including environmental conditions, “ignorance about the illness” does not help matters, as “parents often do not accept that their children even have the disease.”
He said that myths surrounding the administration of corticosteroids – which were overprescribed in the past and can cause side effects – come into play as well.
Reaño added that misconceptions and ignorance lie behind Peruvian parents’ tendency to allow asthma to go untreated.
Carlos Alberto Saavedra, president of the Peruvian Pneumology Association, said that it is this reluctance to resort to treatment that can result in serious asthma attacks.
He said that it is “cheaper to control the disease than to treat acute asthma attacks,” especially when patients are diagnosed in the early stages of the illness.
Up to 50 percent of people who seek treatment at Peru’s hospitals suffer from some kind of respiratory complaint, often associated with untreated asthma.
The Andean nation’s 30 percent incidence of asthma among children is one of the highest in Latin America and compares with a rate of 12 percent in Spain.