The Pan African Thoracic Society (PATS) in collaboration with the Department of Child Health of the School of Medicine and Dentistry of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi has marked world Lung Day with an educational programme.
The educational programme held for over fifty school health coordinators and teachers in Junior High Schools in the Kumasi Metropolis was part of celebrating World Lung Day which is observed on 25th September every year. The celebration was themed: “The Role of Teachers in Improving Childhood Asthma in Schools.”
According to the Programme Coordinator and Senior Lecturer, Dr. Sandra Kwarteng Owusu this year’s celebration was aimed at providing basic training for teachers and school health coordinators on identifying children and adolescents with asthma in schools. In addition, the meeting focused on stigma/barriers to asthma control and improving asthma care in the school environment.
Dr. Kwarteng Owusu said the teachers and health coordinators were selected because they realised from a study on Achieving Control of Asthma in Children in Africa which occurred in six different countries including Ghana, revealed that there are a lot of children between twelve and sixteen years in the junior high schools who have asthma but do not have an official diagnosis. She continued that they go to school every day, have symptoms, and are present in school. “We felt that we must talk to the teachers and coordinators and empower them with more information on childhood asthma.
Dr. Kwarteng Owusu stated that asthma is manageable and not a contagious disease. When a child has asthma, it will not affect other children. She added that if teachers have this information, they will help identify the children who need help and call for the needed help leading to treatment.
The Project Coordinator said asthma affects the quality of life of children. Some do not take part in physical education and other school activities; some are not able to sleep at night and others stay out of school. The event, therefore, sought to help the coordinators and teachers bring up ideas to help children living with asthma.
In his submission, a member of the team and a Paediatrician at St. Theresa’s Hospital, Nandom, Dr. Haruna Mahama, said with regards to the celebration of World Lung Day, he wrote a proposal to the PATS who awarded a grant to organise the programme.
Dr. Mahama said children spend one-third of the day at school with their teachers and so it was important to engage the teachers who care for them on such issues during school hours. He said some of the presentations are on identifying symptoms of asthma, how to identify children with asthma, emergency management of asthma, instruments used in the treatment of asthma, barriers to the management of asthma, and more importantly how to break the stigma associated with asthma.
School Health Coordinator, Reverend Emmanuel Addo, said he had benefitted immensely from the training and has learned a lot and can now manage any case of asthma in his school and will pass on the knowledge to other teachers.
The event was facilitated by Dr. Naomi Adjetey, Dr. Maame Frema, Dr. Haruna Mahama, and Dr. Sandra Kwarteng Owusu.