The prevalence and seriousness of asthma call for more attention to be placed on advocating for awareness, treatment improvement, and education. Yet, many patients and potential advocates for asthma rights may not know where to begin these efforts. Here are some ideas on how you can advocate for improved asthma care and education.
The first step in advocating for asthma awareness and policy change begins with you. Self Advocacy refers to the process of researching and learning about asthma, it's symptomatic effects, and the impacts that it can have on a patient. For many, this process begins when they or someone close to them is diagnosed with asthma. Here, "advocacy" may be just as much about knowing your personal health as it is about improving the treatment asthma patients receive. If your asthma advocacy journey began with your own diagnosis.
Understanding the words that your Healthcare Professionals use will help you become more comfortable asking questions. If you don’t understand something, ask! - Asthma Canada
If you are seeking to learn more about your asthma, of self-advocacy involves:
- Taking an active role in managing your asthma.
- Asking the right questions to the right people, and making sure you understand the answers you are given before making decisions about your care.
- Working with your healthcare professionals to help you set your goals, and then meet them.
- Understanding your rights and responsibilities as a patient.
- Telling your family, friends, boss, co-workers, and others what they can do to help you manage your asthma.
Beyond this, there are several other ways you can participate in advocating for asthma care. Several active initiatives in Canada are currently attempting to improve the overall quality of asthma patient care:
- Share you Stories - Asthma Canada's letter-writing campaign
As a patient, your experiences dealing with asthma can provide valuable insight into how awareness and the asthma treatment process. In an effort to make real patient experiences more accessible to the legislators and coalitions which impact the treatment of asthma, Asthma Canada encourages patients to share their storiesBy sharing your story of living with asthma, you can help educate other Canadians and medical professionals. Asthma Canada routinely uses the volunteered stories of patients in their advocacy to improved air quality, better access to medication and care, or all-around improved awareness.
- Get Involved - Join an Asthma Advocacy Group
To get more formally involved with advocating for asthma rights in Canada - you can always join one of the several advocacy groups operating in Canada today. The largest of these, the Asthma Canada Member Alliance (ACMA), actively volunteers to further educate the public on asthma management. It also provides a patient’s perspective in “asthma research, resources, and policy and strives to improve asthma care and quality of life for Canadians and their caregivers coping with asthma and respiratory allergies” . By volunteering with the ACMA or another asthma rights organization, you can network with other asthma patients while actively participating in spreading awareness on the importance of proper asthma management and medication accessibility .
- Advocate for Green Policies
Asthma Advocacy goes beyond improving awareness and education for asthma management. Today, promoting sustainable, clean energy is important for the health of all Canadians. Climate change, in particular, has been associated with the spread of irritants and triggering exacerbations related to poor air conditions for asthma patients . By advocating for green energy sources and climate-friendly legislation, you can also use this as an opportunity for asthma advocacy. One such initiative is the #MakeItBetter campaign. The campaign was developed by the Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA), with the goal of partnering with “leading health and environmental organizations to protect children’s health” . For more information, visit their website here.