Ministry Reports

Taking Action on Asthma : Report of the Chief Medical Officer of Health


Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that impacts both one's health and daily functioning. Over the past two decades, the prevalence of asthma has markedly risen in Ontario and around the world. This increase is particularly evident amongst school-aged children, with approximately 12 per cent of Ontario children and seven per cent of Ontario adults being diagnosed with asthma.

Currently, asthma is the leading cause of hospitalization for children in Ontario and is a significant cause of school and work absenteeism. In 1996, there were 192 deaths directly attributable to asthma in Ontario.

Our goal is to minimize the onset of asthma in susceptible individuals and to control asthmatic episodes amongst those affected. It is increasingly evident that the growing number of asthmatics are contributing to rising health care costs in Ontario. Direct costs to the health care system include hospitalization and physician care, whereas indirect costs can include lost productivity due to disability, school or work absenteeism, and even premature death. However, through a process of proper control and education, we can reduce hospitalization and emergency department visits, reduce school and work absenteeism, decrease the need for medication, and most importantly, positively impact rates of asthma morbidity and mortality.

It is the role of those affected with asthma, their families, and their health care providers, to establish an optimum asthma management plan for that individual. However, a greater understanding of the disease and its management is also needed, as is a shared dedication towards reducing its impact on affected individuals and on the health care system itself. Health care providers, asthmatics and their families, schools, workplaces, local boards of health, the community and governments at all levels, must work together in order to understand and better manage the impact of this disease.

Colin O. D'Cunha, MBBS, MHSc , FRCPC
Chief Medical Officer of Health

You can read the report online, or download it from the link below.

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Taking Action on Asthma : Report of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
18 pages | 274 kb | PDF format

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November 2000

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