Meet me in St. Louis

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The mere mention of St. Louis, Gateway to the West, conjures up images of adventure--the mighty Mississippi, steamboats, and Louis and Clark; but for many years, St. Louis has had the dubious honor of ranking among the top 10 most challenging places to live with asthma. It is difficult to believe that the prevalence of asthma in adults is higher in St. Louis than Missouri as a whole and that more than 15 percent of children in the city have been diagnosed with the disease at some point in their lives. Emergency room visits for asthma in St. Louis are more than double the rate in the entire state of Missouri and asthma is the number one reason why children are hospitalized in St. Louis. These facts and figures, along with feedback from various healthcare and community organizations in St. Louis, led us to join forces with the American Lung Association (ALA) Plains-Gulf Region to develop the My Life with Asthma campaign, a community public health awareness initiative.

My Life with Asthma is designed to empower and encourage patients and families to gain a better understanding of what it means to have control of their asthma. There is no cure for asthma, but it can be treated. Unfortunately, as many as 58 percent of people with asthma may not have their disease under control.For this reason, a key component of the My Life with Asthma educational effort is the Asthma Control Test, a five-question quiz which helps patients 12 or older determine if their asthma is under control.

The community-wide My Life with Asthma collaborative will bring the public and private sectors together to increase awareness of the impact of asthma in St. Louis and the importance of better asthma control. In addition to grassroots efforts such as participation in health fairs and other community events, the campaign will include educational advertising throughout the St. Louis area. My Life with Asthma officially launched today with an event in St. Louis where Sheryl Butler, Community Relations Coordinator forthe Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, presented a proclamation from Governor Jay Nixon encouraging residents to learn more about asthma and ways to manage the disease

Our hope is that this initiative exemplifies the importance of coordinating efforts across multiple community stakeholders to effectively educate the public (particularly in a highly affected area, such as St. Louis) about the importance of achieving asthma control. It's been genuinely exciting to watch this campaign evolve from a simple discussion regarding a real community need, to a comprehensive public health awareness campaign.GSK firmly believes that together we can do more to improve the health and well-being of people around the world--one city at a time.

For more information about the campaign, visit www.MyLifeWithAsthma.org.

Photo, in the public domain, courtesy of Wikipedia.