Non-Communicable Diseases, Emergency Care and Mental Health Module: 4. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Bronchial Asthma

Study Session 4  Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Bronchial Asthma


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and bronchial asthma are very common respiratory diseases (i.e. affecting the respiratory system) all over the world, including in Ethiopia. Patients with COPD are usually in the older age groups and have a combination of two clinical conditions – emphysema and chronic bronchitis, which will be explained in this study session. Bronchial asthma is an allergic reaction to particles getting into the lungs from the environment. Although it can affect all ages, it is the most common chronic disease among children.

According to estimates by the WHO, about 235 million people have asthma worldwide, and 210 million people have COPD. Millions more have these or other undiagnosed chronic respiratory diseases. Asthma is not often fatal, but about three million people die of COPD every year and experts predict that COPD will become the third leading cause of death worldwide by the year 2030.

In this study session, you will learn about the respiratory system, what COPD and bronchial asthma mean, and how they affect patients’ lives. We will teach you how to recognise the symptoms and signs in people in your community, and how to use screening questions for COPD to find out if a person has risk factors for developing this respiratory condition, or early signs of disease that they are not yet aware of. We will also discuss how COPD and bronchial asthma affects patient’s lives and how to prevent these diseases, so you can make an important contribution to improving the health of your community.