Children suffering from asthma are at an increased risk of contracting H1N1 virus, warns an expert.
While talking to students and their parents at Thurgood Marshall Elementary, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius highlighted the work of the Philadelphia MCAN project as a model for childhood asthma management.
After being launched in 2005, the Philadelphia MCAN project has improved asthma outcomes for children and reduced school absenteeism.
"Nothing is more important than keeping our children healthy, in school and ready to learn as we start the new school year," said Dr. Floyd Malveaux, Executive Director of MCAN and former Dean of the College of Medicine at Howard University.
"We applaud Secretary Sebelius for recognizing that staying healthy can be a challenge for students with asthma - a factor that is even further complicated with the possibility of being exposed to the H1N1 virus, which can increase the severity of asthma symptoms, leading to possible hospitalisations," Malveaux added.
The Philadelphia program provides children with asthma and their families access to three key services.
Firstly, Community Asthma Prevention Program (CAPP) classes that educate parents, other caretakers and children with asthma
Secondly, CAPP home visits where community health workers help families eliminate or control allergens and irritants within the home
And finally Health Promotion Council (HPC) Link Line services that connect families to asthma care coordinators.
"By collaborating with specific schools to identify children that have asthma, the Philadelphia MCAN project has armed school nurses with essential information to assist students who are at higher risk for complications with H1N1 and seasonal flu virus, allowing them to be better prepared to manage these children at school," said Dr. Michael Rosenthal of Thomas Jefferson University and co-lead investigator of the Philadelphia MCAN program.