Asthma Society say that Limerick school children are 'at risk'

Norma Prendiville

Reporter:

Norma Prendiville

The Asthma Society of Ireland has warned that not every school is ready for an asthma emergency and children are being put at risk

The Asthma Society of Ireland has warned that not every school is ready for an asthma emergency and children are being put at risk

ALMOST 8,000 Limerick children with asthma are returning to school this week but the Asthma Society of Ireland has warned that not every school is ready for an asthma emergency and children are being put at risk because of inaction by the government.

“Every school should have an asthma inhaler in their first-aid kit in case of emergency,” Averil Power, chief executive of the Asthma Society said.

“However, two years after a new scheme was put in place by then Minister for Health Leo Varadkar TD not a single school has received an emergency asthma inhaler under it. This, combined with some teachers’ reluctance to administer asthma medication, is putting children’s lives at risk.

“One in five Irish school going children, i.e 180,000 children, have asthma, so it is inevitable that many schools will have to deal with a student having an asthma attack at some point,”Ms Power said.

“Having immediate access to emergency medication can be the difference between life and death.” 

The previous Minister for Health recognised this when he introduced a new scheme allowing schools and other community facilities to obtain inhalers without a prescription for their first aid kits in case students forget theirs.

However, excessive conditions associated with the scheme have made it unworkable in practice,” Ms Power said, and not one single school has used it to obtain an inhaler. 

The Asthma Society’s medical adviser, Prof Richard Costello said it needed to be made clear to teachers that they “should not be reluctant to give a child reliever medication”. 

The potential side effects are minor and temporary, he said, but a delay could cost a life. Go to www.asthma.ie or call 1800 445464.

The Asthma Society has published a range of free resources for schools on its website www.asthma.ie .Parents or teachers who want more information or advice can also speak to a nurse for free by calling the  Society’s Adviceline on 1800 445464.