Coronavirus outbreak spotlights risks untreated asthma poses to minorities
We are a small collective of students from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County seeking to raise awareness around asthma health disparities in our home city, especially in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. Baltimore is disproportionately affected by asthma with prevalences surpassing 20% among children under the age of 18 and 12.4% among adults. For perspective, the national averages are 8.4% and 7.7% respectively.
Critically however, asthma incidences are far greater in communities of color, the burdens of which amplify comorbidities already impeding education and quality of life. Several programs were recently developed to address these health inequities, one intervention being the Community Asthma Program (CAP) established in 2009. Current CAP Program Director Margret Schnitzer deploys an army of community health workers throughout Baltimore wherein three home visits are made to about 200 houses annually, providing patients with medication guidance, educational materials for asthma prevention and non-toxic cleaning supplies. Eighty-nine percent of children report decreases in severe asthma symptoms following intervention.
With rising incidences of COVID-19, an infection that ravages the body’s respiratory system, Baltimore’s communities of color remain especially vulnerable (“Here are the known cases of coronavirus in Maryland,” March 25). Now, more than ever, we need upstream, community-driven advocacy to protect those who need help most.
Charles Brodine, Zara Dunefsky, Andrew Thayyil and Tru Vu, Catonsville