ASTHMA cases reported at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital since January last year have increased.
According to hospital director East Wing and Intensive Care Services Dr Vereniki Raiwalui, asthma cases from January 1 to July 10 were 211 compared to 158 for whole of last year.
Dr Raiwalui told The Fiji Times that the mortality for asthma was 18 per cent or 38 of the 211 patients admitted.
He said of the 38 people who died, 27 were iTaukei, ten Fijians of Indian descent and one from the other race category.
He said the number of patients who died were between 20 years to 70 years whereas majority of the cases ranged between 40 to 70 years.
Dr Raiwalui said the increase in the asthma cases was largely related to non-compliance of medication by patients.
"It is also because asthma patients exposure to second-hand smoking and seasonal variations," he said. He said factors such as air pollution also contribute to the influx of people presenting themselves at CWHM.
He said there are inadequate resources provided for health care including asthma.
"The requirement of respiratory specialists and related organisations required to care for a wide variety of diseases, which has in some regions resulted in a failure to adequately promote awareness of asthma," he said.
Dr Raiwalui said the hospital does not have a structural program to address asthma.
"Most of the patients are diagnosed for the first and there is no fixed service looking into them."
He highlighted that the generic barriers to reducing asthma in Fiji include poverty, poor education and poor infrastructure.
"Environmental barriers including indoor and outdoor air pollution, tobacco smoking and occupational exposures also contribute," he said.
Dr Raiwalui said there was low public health priority because of the importance of other respiratory illness such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and the lack of data on morbidity and mortality from asthma.
He said consideration was given to the setting up of an asthma clinic to offset cases seen in the specialist medical clinic.