Office of the Director - June 11, 2012
On May 31, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council of Environmental Quality, joined national leaders of asthma programs for the release of the Coordinated Federal Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Asthma Disparities.
The plan, a part of the President's Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children, seeks to connect programs across federal agencies with the goal of reducing the burden of asthma, especially among children—in particular, minority children and children with family incomes below the poverty level. Poor and minority children are more likely to have asthma, and their health outcomes are worse.
"The report is a blueprint for how we can work together to reduce asthma disparities and help ensure children with asthma get the right care with the right support," said Secretary Sebelius.
"What excites me about the plan is that it is comprehensive and action-oriented," said NHLBI Acting Director Dr. Susan Shurin, who attended the event and spoke on a panel about reducing barriers to guidelines-based care. "It outlines specific ways we can bring together the special expertise from separate programs—accomplishing more than any one individual program could do alone—to get quality, evidence-based asthma care to minority children."
The plan outlines four strategies:
- Reduce barriers to the implementation of guidelines-based asthma management.
- Enhance capacity to deliver integrated, comprehensive asthma care to children in communities with racial and ethnic asthma disparities.
- Improve capacity to identify the children most impacted by asthma disparities.
- Accelerate efforts to identify and test interventions that may prevent the onset of asthma among ethnic and racial minority children.
The NHLBI co-chaired the President's Task Force committee on asthma, which developed the plan, and is committed to working with our federal partners and asthma community leaders to implement it. For example:
- Members of the NHLBI-supported National Asthma Education and Prevention Program have worked for more than 15 years to develop and update clinical guidelines and incorporate those messages into asthma programs that have significantly improved care.
- The NHLBI will work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services to improve health care purchasers' understanding of what constitutes quality asthma care.
- The NHLBI will work with professional societies and continuing medical education programs to develop innovative methods for informing health care providers who serve minority children about the guidelines and ways to incorporate best practices into routine medical care.
- The NHLBI will work with various partners to encourage the use of social media and innovative technologies to improve communication among children, their caregivers, their schools, and their health care providers, and to promote the use of community health workers for home visits.
- The NHLBI is conducting workshops that bring together international experts to address key issues in asthma research on new treatment approaches and preventing onset of the disease.
And, of course, the NHLBI continues to conduct research, support clinical practice guidelines, and coordinate activities at multiple levels—including among researchers, health care providers, schools, communities, and families at home—to translate the best available science on asthma into improved care for all communities across the nation.
- HHS news release: "Obama administration working to close racial, ethnic gap on asthma" (http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2012pres/05/20120531c.html)
- Action Plan website from the Environmental Protection Agency (http://www.epa.gov/childrenstaskforce/index.html)
- Secretary Sebelius's event speech (http://www.hhs.gov/secretary/about/speeches/sp20120531.html)
- NHLBI-supported National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/about/org/naepp) and National Asthma Control Initiative (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-pro/resources/lung/naci/index.htm)
- NHLBI Health Topic: Asthma (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/asthma/)
- NIH news release: "World Asthma Day 2012" (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/news/press-releases/2012/world-asthma-day-2012)