Recognizing Asthma Awareness Month and Community Asthma Leaders

By Gina McCarthy

May first is World Asthma Day and the start of Asthma Awareness Month. Each year EPA takes this opportunity to amplify its public awareness campaign, strengthen its partnerships with community level asthma organizations, and further the discussion on the asthma epidemic.

Asthma is a serious issue. It’s a chronic respiratory disease that affects the quality of life for almost 26 million Americans, including over seven million children. It can also sometimes be deadly. Environmental irritants such as smog, smoke, and chemicals in the air–affect our health and trigger asthma attacks. So, the cleaner our air, both indoors and out, the easier it will be to manage this disease.

While the Clean Air Act has provided numerous health benefits, including the prevention of millions of asthma attacks per year, community level organizations that deliver asthma management and care also deserve special recognition. Each year EPA honors exceptional health plans, health care providers and communities in action as they integrate evidence-based best practices into effective public health programs. The National Environmental Leadership Award in Asthma Management is the highest recognition a program and its leaders can receive from the federal government for delivering excellent environmental asthma management as part of their comprehensive asthma care services.

This year, EPA honors four winners for their outstanding efforts to improve the lives of people with asthma in under-served communities. We recognize:

  • Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Hartford, Conn., for its Easy Breathing Program, which includes patient education and environmental interventions. The program is implemented across the state of Connecticut helping ensure that comprehensive asthma care is available to the 105,000 children with asthma now enrolled in the program.
  • L.A. Care Health Plan, Los Angeles, Calif., which serves Medicaid members in low-income communities in Los Angeles County. The program has developed strong community ties, and collaborates with the local housing authority. This health plan reimburses for home visits, environmental management supplies, and asthma education.
  • Michigan Department of Community Health’s Asthma Prevention and Control Program, Lansing, Mich., for its state-wide program that supports local interventions and builds community capacity across Michigan. The program improves outcomes for underserved children and adults dealing with asthma. This program has been able to secure health plan reimbursement for several of its initiatives, while others are supported through state and local state asthma partnerships.
  • Mission Health, Asheville, N.C., which addresses health disparities in minority children, including Native Americans, with asthma in rural western North Carolina. Mission Health works with communities, health care providers, clinics, families and schools and provides interventions that address both indoor and outdoor environmental exposures.

EPA thanks these and the thousands of other organizations that are working to combat asthma in communities across the United States. Please read more about Asthma Awareness.

About the author: Gina McCarthy is the Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation.  A brief bio