Asthma is a major burden to health systems and families in Latin America and the burden of asthma is greatest amongst the urban poor who often have limited access to medicines and health care.

Quito city

There are high rates of sickness and hospital attendance rates relating to asthma attacks and a need to improve health access for individuals with asthma attacks in underprivileged urban populations and to manage their asthma better, including improving access to asthma medications.

St Georges, University of London, has been awarded £2 million by the NIHR, to undertake a Project entitled “Asthma Attacks Causes and Prevention Study in Urban Latin America”. The study is taking place in two South American countries: Ecuador and Brazil.

In Ecuador, we will be recruiting 750 children presenting in ER with asthma attacks in three diverse cities in Ecuador: Quito, Cuenca, and Portoviejo.  The objective of our study are to implement optimal care for children and adolescents through specialized teams in hospitals in the three cities to see if this reduces reattendance rates and management of asthma.

In Brazil we are studying severe asthma in adults in Salvador and seeking to identify modifiable risk factors for severe asthma and to use the expertise of an established programme of specialized asthma care to build capacity of the primary health teams in Salvador to manage adults with severe asthma better.

The work is being led by Professor Phil Cooper and Dr Michael Perkin .

Dr Perkin said: “When working in the UK it is easy to lose sight of the fact that asthma is a global problem affecting 339 million people in the world - and the effective treatments we take for granted here are often unavailable or unaffordable elsewhere. With this exciting study, we are hoping to demonstrate how it is possible to make a big difference to the management and quality of life of both children and adults with asthma in Latin America.”