Asthma Association (AA), founded in 1993, was the predecessor of the Asthma and Allergy Association (AAA).
Asthma is a condition causing inflammation of the airways in the lungs which affects both children and adults. Public awareness on asthma was lacking in the early 1990s. A local study then showed that deaths due to asthma did not decrease despite new medications available for asthma. Thus, AA was formed in 1993 with the purpose of improving the public’s, patients’, parents’ and caregivers’ knowledge and awareness of asthma, as effective treatments when used appropriately improve patients’ quality of life and prevent unnecessary death.
A group of doctors decided that a community- based organization should be formed to facilitate patient education and empowerment. Hence the AA was formed with a grant of $30,000 kindly provided by a pharmaceutical company and the founding President was Dr Hui Kok Pheng.
In the 1990’s, AA was one of the pioneers of public forums to increase public awareness on asthma. The response was overwhelming. In addition to the public forums, asthma camps and other activities were also organized by AA. Patients found the advice given by the experts very useful and informative.
In 2000, AA took one step further and started the medical welfare subsidy scheme. With the financial support from AA, needy patients were able to afford the more expensive, but more effective medications to help control their asthma. This initiative continues till today.
From 2003, AA funded several research studies. One study by Dawn Lim et el showed that from 1994 to 2002 the significant rise in the sale of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) was associated with a significant decrease of asthma deaths by almost 60% in both the young and the old over the same period. A 30% drop in asthma-related hospitalizations was also observed. Although a retrospective study with no case controls, this study supports the importance of ICS in asthma. Regular use of ICS can improve the overall control of asthma and more importantly, prevent deaths.
To reinforce the encouraging data, AA came up with a ‘sticker initiative’; the first and only project of its kind in Singapore so far. Together with the Singapore National Asthma Programme (SNAP), launched in 2004, a sticker (in English, Mandarin and Malay) was placed on the packaging of all preventer inhalers reminding patients that “Daily Use of Preventers Saves Lives”.
In recent years, AA recognized the global epidemic of the rising prevalence of allergic disorders, like eczema, rhinitis and food allergy, which are co-morbidities of asthma. Given the poor public awareness of these other allergic conditions, in 2009, AA was restructured into the AAA to include these other “allergies” as part of the association’s educational objectives.