The boss of Scotland’s leading asthma charity has called on the Scottish Government to “wake up” to the crisis facing thousands of sufferers.

Martina Chukwuma-Ezike issued the call as the Asthma and Allergy Foundation launched a policy report designed to help asthmatics whose symptoms, she says, are desperately out of control.

The study, ‘Fighting for Air’, blames worsening air pollution, higher rates of poverty, underfunding in education and an increasingly overwhelmed health service for the worsening situation.

The document is the fruit of a process lasting several months drawing on the experience of patients, scientists, academics and researchers.

Among the policies it promotes are: an increase in the Scottish Child Payment for families coping with the respiratory condition, priority social housing, a commitment to face-to-face asthma reviews with GPs, live air pollution monitoring by local authorities and a nationwide roll-out of asthma training in schools, workplaces and other organisations.

Talking at the launch of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation’s new ‘My Breath Is My Life’ project in Edinburgh, Mrs Chukwuma-Ezike said: “Scotland has one of the worst problems with asthma anywhere in Europe and it is time for ministers to wake up to the crisis hundreds of thousands face, particularly children living in straitened conditions.

“There is a kind of ambivalence towards the condition and services are woefully underfunded. Every life lost to asthma represents a huge waste of human potential and communities and families torn apart.

“There are some very important questions which need to be answered. Of the 96 people who died from asthma in Scotland in 2021, why were almost 70 per cent women? Professor Tim Hinks of Oxford University is doing great research into this but what can we do here in Scotland to support him? The other huge issue is the cost-of-living crisis. Why are those families struggling with asthma not getting the extra support they need, whether financial or otherwise? The statistics are terrifying.

“Of the 72,200 children in Scotland with asthma, one is admitted to hospital every 20 minutes with an attack. If you are living in poverty, you are three times more likely to be one of these children.”

She added: “In an age where health services face a multitude of problems, we feel asthma is ignored by those with the power to help. We have launched this policy paper in the hope that we will get it into the hands of decision-makers who have the will and ability to introduce meaningful change for a constituency of people who are, quite frankly, lost at sea without any hope in sight.”

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation carries out education workshops all over Scotland, supporting sufferers and teaching people what to do if someone suffers an asthma attack.

The charity’s Chief Executive added: “Whether someone lives or dies depends on the person standing next to them. We know that as many as 70 per cent asthma deaths are preventable.

“This figure represents dozens of people who have died needlessly from asthma in Scotland. This is something of a national shame and today we are seeking a commitment from ministers and other political leaders to meet with us to discuss policies which are born out of strategic insights, living examples and first-person testimony on what we can do as a society to improve the lives of the most vulnerable among us.”

The policy paper also calls for an expansion to the Winter Fuel Payment to those with asthma, an increase in research and development funding for new asthma medication, and support for Low Emission Zones in towns and cities with high levels of air pollution.

The charity is also supporting ‘Lauren’s Law’ – a drive by the mother of Lauren Reid, who tragically passed away in 2020 at the age of 19 after forgetting her inhaler. Elaine Cunningham from Glasgow wants new legislation which forces all workplaces to carry emergency inhalers.

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