Patient with asthma in a hospital bed being attended by a nurseAsthma is the most common chronic respiratory disease, especially among children. Although asthma has a relatively low fatality rate compared to other chronic diseases, according to WHO estimates, 300 million people suffer from asthma and 255 000 people died of asthma in 2005. Over 80% of asthma deaths occur in developing countries. Available evidence suggests that about 8% of the population in the Eastern Mediterranean Region suffer from asthma.

The prevalence of asthma is on the increase. WHO has projected asthma deaths for 2015 and 2030 in the Eastern Mediterranean Region as 20 000 and 27 000, respectively. We also know that asthma is mostly under-diagnosed and under-treated, particularly in children. 

Although asthma cannot be cured, appropriate management can control the disease and enable people to enjoy a good quality of life. Smoke (tobacco smoke, smoke from wood-burning or kerosene stoves and fireplace), aerosol sprays, strong odours (perfumes, cologne, gasoline fumes) and dust and air pollution can trigger asthma attacks by irritating sensitive airways.