What a year it has been, a year that will go down in history.

In 2020 Australians with asthma have faced significant challenges.

From the widespread bushfires over summer, to medication shortages as news of the COVID-19 pandemic started to spread, and concerns over how the respiratory virus could impact them.

Throughout this journey, the team at Asthma Australia has engaged, responded to and supported the one in nine Australians with asthma in what has been an extraordinary time for our organisation.

We were overwhelmed with the response to our Smoke Impact Survey. More than 12,000 people shared the impacts of the bushfires on them. Almost all of them (94%) experienced symptoms. In addition to the physical impacts, the social, psychological and financial tolls of the smoke were all encompassing.bushfire infographic

We were devastated to hear of the loss of Courtney Partridge-McLennan, 19, who died after suffering a severe asthma attack while sleeping amid the fires.

Her family’s call for action to protect our community’s respiratory health demonstrates their strength and we are very grateful for their support.

Then there was COVID-19.

Again, we asked people with asthma about their experiences and again we were inundated with responses.

The Asthma and COVID-19 Survey 2020 conducted in April and released in July, highlighted that people with asthma were anxious about the virus and many were experiencing new or increased symptoms of depression or anxiety.

Two in three were self-isolating and a quarter of people had difficulty accessing their medication.

It was, and for some people, remains a challenging time.

But it has been a time that has highlighted the resilience of people with asthma, the Australian healthcare system and our own organisation. This year we have seen our reach and level of engagement with the community grow.

We are also strengthening our partnerships to increase asthma awareness and education across the country, which you can read about in our 2019/2020 Annual Report

Free accredited asthma education for healthcare professionals available online

One key initiative has been our free accredited education training modules for GPs, nurses, pharmacists and allied health professionals on the ThinkGP online platform.

Together with Reed Medical Education, we created the training to educate healthcare specialists about asthma best practice diagnosis and management, and principles of person-centred care. For more information on the training available click here.

Boosting asthma medications on the PBS

We were also pleased to see the Australian Government listing of more asthma-related medications on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS):

  • A new Ventolin (salbutamol sulfate) inhaler with a dose counter
  • Pen device Fasenra (benralizumab) and Nucala (mepolizumab)
  • Anti-inflammatory relievers Symbicort Turbuhaler 200/6, Symbicort Rapihaler 100/3 or DuoResp Spiromax (budesonide/formoterol)
  • A new combination therapy inhaler Fostair® (beclometasone dipropionate and formoterol (eformoterol) fumarate dihydrate)

More information on asthma medicines and devices is available here.

Join our campaign for clean air

We are continuing to advocate for an AirSmart public education campaign to address the health risks of poor air quality through smoke, drought and dust storms.

Air quality has been in the spotlight this year amid the two New South Wales inquiries and the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements Report.

Please join our call to protect Australians from unhealthy air. This supports our vision to help people with asthma breathe so they can live freely. To donate to Asthma Australia’s work or for more information on how Asthma Australia is working to improve air quality reporting and education, click here.