New report calls for policymakers to adhere to international guidelines for the management of severe asthma

11 September 2023

The Health Policy Partnership (HPP) has drawn from insights from a leading group of respiratory and allergy specialists, to develop a new report which calls for greater political attention to be given to severe asthma as a distinct condition, which is thought to affect 3–10% of all people living with asthma. The report A breath of fresh air: Addressing missed opportunities in severe asthma care, details the urgent need for approved standards of care to be put into practice across different health systems.

The new report highlights the real-world impact severe asthma has on people living with the condition, along with the economic, social and system-wide implications of the suboptimal management and treatment of this debilitating disease. The report also presents a clear way forward to support policymakers in ensuring goals for severe asthma are built into respiratory strategies, and quality standards are embedded within health systems.

Severe asthma is a distinct condition that requires assessment and ongoing care from a specialist. This is to ensure people are offered effective treatments that can help them reduce the risk of asthma attacks, and so dramatically improve their quality of life. People with severe asthma experience frequent life-threatening asthma attacks despite correctly using prescribed inhaled treatments. These attacks can lead to irreversible damage to their lung function, as well as having a significant impact on people’s ability to work and levels of activity..

Improving the management of severe asthma offers more than just clinical benefits. Fewer asthma attacks also reduces clinical appointments and hospital admissions, alleviating pressures on already stretched health systems and enhancing social prosperity by reducing productivity losses. Better management of severe asthma can also help reduce the carbon footprint from the overuse of inhalers and additional hospital visits linked to asthma care.

Despite clear and consistent international guidelines, there are significant disparities in access and quality of care for severe asthma. At the root of the problem, is that severe asthma is often not recognised as a distinct condition that requires urgent referral to specialist care. People can wait for months, if not years, before being referred to an asthma specialist for ongoing monitoring and care.

As governments try to strengthen their health systems and foster social prosperity, it is important that they pay due attention to persistent – yet often overlooked – health concerns. Severe asthma is not just an issue of personal health, it is one that affects our society overall. Relieving people from the distressing impact of repeated asthma attacks can transform their quality of life and restore their ability to thrive.

To learn more about severe asthma and the steps needed to improve recognition and standards of care, download the report A breath of fresh air: Addressing missed opportunities in severe asthma care.