During an event with leaders from three U.S. federal agencies and the White House, the executive director of the Merck Childhood Asthma Network, Inc. (MCAN), Dr. Floyd Malveaux, expressed strong support for the government’s new coordinated action plan to reduce racial and ethnic asthma disparities. The release of the new report came on the last day of National Asthma Awareness Month.
The Action Plan is an outcome of the interagency Asthma Disparities Working Group, co-chaired by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The report is aimed at increasing coordination among federal programs and identifies four strategies to address this major public health challenge over the next three to five years
“The type of interagency commitment and collaboration underpinning this new report is significant and unprecedented in the field of childhood asthma. Above all, it is clear that we must not only rely on traditional healthcare services to overcome asthma disparities, but also involve efforts to improve where we live and the air we breathe,” said Dr. Floyd Malveaux, Executive Director of MCAN and former Dean of the College of Medicine at Howard University. “Looking forward, it will take organizations like the Merck Childhood Asthma Network and many others across the country to put the report’s smart and comprehensive strategies into action.”
In his remarks, Dr. Malveaux described MCAN’s role in taking community-based approaches that are scientifically sound and implementing them into “real world” settings to empower children and their families to manage the disease. In particular, he highlighted the important role of expanding the healthcare team to include trained asthma educators to help coordinate care. Dr. Tyra Bryant-Stephens of the Community Asthma Prevention Program (CAPP) at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, one of the community-based care coordination programs funded by MCAN, also spoke at the event.
White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chair Nancy Sutley, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius headlined the event held at the Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus (THEARC), which houses The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington along with other community groups.
Strategies outlined in the Action Plan include:
- Reduce barriers to asthma care: Ensure that the populations most severely impacted by asthma receive evidence-based comprehensive care, which includes access to medical services, education and environmental interventions.
- Build local capacity: Enhance capacity to deliver integrated, community-based asthma care systems.
- Target services: Identify the children, families and communities most impacted by asthma disparities.
- Accelerate prevention efforts: Increase understanding of the cause or causes of asthma and test interventions that may prevent the onset of asthma.