While in China to promote health care worker training, Project HOPE CEO Dr. Thomas Kenyon had the opportunity to visit Lujiazui Community Health Center – a pilot community health center (CHC) for HOPE’s pediatric asthma program in Shanghai.
Shanghai’s prevalence of asthma is the highest in China at 7.57 percent. Previously, young patients had to travel to crowded tertiary hospitals like the Shanghai Children’s Medical Center (SCMC) for treatment because most CHCs did not have pediatric clinics. This made it difficult for patients to complete follow-up appointments and resulted in low controlled rates of asthma.
In 2015, Project HOPE initiated the China Pediatric Asthma Prevention and Management Program with funding from AstraZeneca and support from the Shanghai Children’s Medical Center and 14 community health centers in the Pudong District of Shanghai. The program helps CHCs strengthen their own pediatric asthma clinics to benefit local children in many ways including decreasing wait time, reducing medical costs and helping to control asthma symptoms in these young patients.
To support the program, Project HOPE worked with SCMC to train 35 doctors and nurses from 14 CHCs in the Pudong District of Shanghai, qualifying them to open their own pediatric asthma clinics. HOPE also donated a portable lung function machine and three nebulizers to each CHC for their pulmonary function test rooms and nebulization rooms. Pediatric asthma medication was provided to the CHCs with support from the Pudong Committee of Health and Family Planning.
The results have been inspiring. All the CHCs have now opened their own pediatric asthma clinics and data shows that patients are achieving the same asthma control level with less money spent in CHCs compared with those who had their follow-ups at SCMC.
During Dr. Kenyon’s visit to the pilot center, he discussed the program with Dr. Liu Lingjun, the asthma clinic’s doctor. Dr. Liu indicated that most of her patients were very satisfied with the convenience of their local asthma clinic and shared a poignant example. “One of my patients could not complete the 12-month follow-up protocol because it was too difficult for her to travel to SCMC to see a doctor,” Dr. Liu said. “The patient spent an entire day traveling to SCMC, waiting for the appointment, attending the appointment itself and then returning home. This patient is now able to go to the nearby Lujiazui CHC to get prescriptions and receive lung function tests and nebulization, making the treatments far less time consuming and practical.”
In addition to convenience, medical costs have been reduced because national medical insurance has better coverage in CHCs. Doctor-patient relationships are also reportedly much better in the CHCs because doctors are able to spend more time communicating with patients than doctors at SCMC.
Dr. Kenyon thanked the dedicated hospital staff for investing their time in professional training and making great strides in helping pediatric asthma patients receive better care.
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