It’s National Asthma Week

Asthma Week


Asthma is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases in Australia. Around 2.7 million Australians (11%) have asthma and it accounted for 2.5% of total disease burden in 2022 and 351 deaths in 2021. It is also the leading cause of total burden in children aged 1–14 years and disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with almost one in five reported to have asthma in 2018–19.

Asthma also affects the health system costing $900 million in 2019–2020 alone. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme proportion of asthma expenditure accounts for more than four times the proportion for total health expenditure (51% versus 12%). Recently it has been reported that much of that expenditure is due to underuse of preventative medications and an over reliance on Short-acting beta-agonists (SABAs) which are used to treat asthma symptoms quickly.

It’s important to highlight that asthma is a chronic disease that needs to be correctly diagnosed and treated. The recent AIHW report on asthma shows that people with asthma experience a worsened quality of life. The burden of disease in terms of healthy years lost has risen on average at 0.4% per year since 2003.

The National Asthma Council Australia said it is time people with asthma realised it is a chronic inflammatory disease and not just an intermittent problem that they need to treat only when they have asthma symptoms such as wheezing, cough, chest tightness or shortness of breath.

Debbie Rigby, Clinical Executive Lead at the National Asthma Council Australia, said this misconception has led to the under-use of “preventers” and an over-reliance on over-the-counter relievers or “puffers”, resulting in poor asthma control, the need for oral corticosteroids, increased risk of an asthma attack, hospitalisation and even death.

The national Asthma Council produces a wide range of resources for health professionals managing patients with asthma. These include;

National Asthma Week is the perfect time to stock up on all essential health professional resources. The full range is available by visiting