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Asthma Highlights Health Disparities Discussion

Photos by Ernie Branson

"Can children die from asthma?" That's what one solemn youngster wanted to know during the question period of a recent community panel discussion that gathered people of all ages — from elementary schoolers to senior citizens — at the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., to talk about "Asthma Across the Lifespan." Coordinated by an ad hoc NIH health disparities committee, the event was the second in a series designed to bring NIH's health research and resources into communities directly affected by gaps in health status.

Keynote speaker Dr. Floyd Malveaux, dean of Howard University's School of Medicine, talks about asthma.

Asthma, a chronic lung condition with ongoing airway inflammation, causes recurring acute episodes (attacks) of breathing problems such as coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. A growing health problem in the United States — particularly among inner-city African-American and Latino populations — asthma affects an estimated 17 million Americans or 6.4 percent of the U.S. population, according to information provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

A youngster raises his hand to ask a question during the free asthma discussion held by NIH at a D.C. community church.

Dr. James Kiley, director of the NHLBI Division of Lung Diseases, offers information on research.

Children account for 4.8 million of the nation's asthma sufferers. Asthma claims approximately 5,000 lives annually in the U.S. Asthma deaths have increased significantly during the past two decades.

At the panel discussion, keynote speaker Dr. Floyd Malveaux, dean of Howard University's School of Medicine, discussed basic facts about asthma and its prevalence in urban neighborhoods. Dr. James Kiley, director of the Division of Lung Diseases at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, gave an overview of research on asthma.

One of the event's organizers, Kay Johnson Graham (l), EEO officer for NIDCD/NINR, greets members of the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church congregation.

The Reverend Dr. Derrick Harkins, pastor of the church, gives his support for the health discussion series.

The health disparities committee will present its next panel discussion on "Depression Across the Lifespan." For details about the event, call Kay Johnson Graham, 496-3403.

Dr. Mamie Montague, a research nurse at Howard University, offers remarks.

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