In 1984, President Ronald Reagan declared a week in May to be National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Week at the request of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). Since then, we have expanded our annual awareness campaign to a full month. May is a perfect time to educate patients, family, friends, co-workers, and others about asthma and allergic diseases that impact more than 65 million Americans.
Each year, AAFA continues to spread awareness in May during National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. Recently, AAFA sent a letter to President Biden asking him to declare May to be National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month (see letter below). The letter highlights the importance of promoting awareness, education, and understanding of these diseases. President Biden’s hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, is once again our nation’s Allergy Capital this year.
You can join our efforts to improve asthma and allergy awareness and health care. Use our simple tool to send a tweet to President Biden and join AAFA in requesting this important declaration.
AAFA’s Request to President Biden:
March 31, 2022
Dear Mr. President,
On behalf of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), the leading patient organization advocating for people with asthma and allergies, and the oldest asthma and allergy patient group in the world, I am writing to request that you issue a proclamation declaring May as “National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.” I believe this declaration will support the leadership you’ve already demonstrated in climate and health care policies.
In the United States, asthma presents significant burdens for approximately 25 million adults and children, as well as their families and caregivers. Annually, asthma costs our society an estimated $82 billion in direct and indirect expenses, including medical costs related to 14.2 million office visits, 1.8 million emergency visits, and 440,000 hospitalizations. It is estimated that, from 2019 to 2038, the total cost of uncontrolled asthma could exceed $963 billion in direct and indirect costs. Asthma is also a leading chronic disease among children and a top reason for missed school days.
Racial and ethnic disparities in the burden of asthma have long been established and supported by a large body of evidence. Black and Hispanic Americans have the highest rates of asthma. Black Americans are three times more likely to die from asthma than white Americans. Black patients are also five times more likely to be treated for asthma in hospital emergency rooms compared to white patients. These disparities are largely driven by interrelated and multidimensional social and structural determinants. Long-term systemic racism and discriminatory policies in housing, education, labor, health care, and the environment have created disadvantages for minority populations and exacerbated racial disparities in health.
Raising awareness and educating people on how to manage asthma and allergies is key to beginning to address these longstanding disparities and the burden of disease. National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Week was first recognized in 1984 by President Reagan at AAFA’s request. We ask that you continue to recognize the importance of raising awareness for the millions of Americans and their families living with asthma and allergies and have included a draft proclamation with this letter. Thank you for your consideration and leadership.
President and CEO
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
By the President of the United States of America
Expressing support for the designation of May as “National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.”
Whereas 5,100,000 children in the United States, 7 percent, currently have asthma;
Whereas 25,100,000, or one in 13 people in the United States, have asthma and the numbers are increasing each year;
Whereas, in 2018, on average, children missed more than 7,900,000 days of school and adults missed 10,900,000 days of work because of asthma;
Whereas asthma is the second most common noncommunicable disease among children;
Whereas 1,700,000 individuals per year visit emergency departments because of asthma’s effects;
Whereas asthma is a leading cause of hospitalizations and school absences due to a chronic disease among children;
Whereas the total economic cost of asthma in the United States was $81,900,000,000 per year from 2008 to 2013;
Whereas fewer than half of people with asthma report being given an asthma action plan, which is key to the prevention of asthma attacks;
Whereas Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous individuals in the United States face the highest burden of asthma;
Whereas asthma is a manageable disease that claimed the lives of over 4,100 Americans in 2020; and
Whereas May would be an appropriate month to designate as “Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month”:
Now, therefore, I, Joseph R. Biden, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the month of May 2022 as National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. I call upon the people of the United States to observe such month with appropriate ceremonies and activities.