Background: Asthma affects more than 300 million people globally, many of whom are undertreated, and thus unnecessarily disabled. Some countries have developed effective asthma strategies, which, when consistently implemented, result in reduction of the burden of asthma to individuals and society (Haahtela T et al. National Asthma Strategies. Chapter in: The Global Asthma Report 2014 www.globalasthmareport.org). There has been no systematic appraisal of the extent of asthma strategies in the world.
Methods: The Global Asthma Network (GAN) undertook an email survey of principal investigators of GAN centres in 2014-2015. The survey had 7 questions about the use of asthma management guidelines and one question on whether they had a national asthma strategy: Has a national asthma strategy been developed in your country for the next five years? For children, for adults? (Yes/No/Don't Know). The survey was sent to 279 investigators in 120 countries.
Results: 214 (77%) investigators in 113 (94%) countries completed this question. Of those who responded, 41 were high-income countries and 79 low- and middle- income countries. Of the 113 countries 26% reported a national asthma strategy. Such a strategy was reported in 34% of the 41 high-income countries and in 22% of the 79 low- and middle-income countries.
Conclusion: Only 26% countries reported having a national asthma strategy, with low- and middle- income countries having lower rates than high-income countries. As asthma prevalence has risen, especially in the most populated countries in the world, a large reduction in the global burden of asthma could be achieved if more countries had effective asthma strategies.