Remarks as prepared; not a transcript.

Vice Admiral Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H, FACS
United States Surgeon General
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

American Lung Association Press Conference with Surgeon General Carmona and Pittsburgh Steeler Jerome Bettis to Launch “World Asthma Day”"

Monday, May 2, 2005
9:30 a.m
Washington, D.C.

Photo: Surgeon General Carmona speaks at American Lung Association event to increase awareness of how to prevent and control asthma.

Surgeon General Carmona and Pittsburgh Steeler Jerome Bettis talk at American Lung Association "World Asthma Day" event.

“World Asthma Day”

Good morning. It’s a pleasure to be here with all of you.

I particularly want to congratulate “The Bus” on a successful season.

My friend Jerome Bettis is one of the millions of Americans who have asthma.

Today, asthma affects more than 15 million American adults and 5 million of our children. It’s the most common serious chronic disease of childhood.

It can be very frightening to not be able to breathe, and it’s especially scary for a child.

As an emergency room nurse and physician, I’ve treated hundreds of young asthma patients who were rushed to the hospital by concerned moms and dads.

The Year of the Healthy Child
Now as Surgeon General, I’m taking a hard look at ways to improve the health of children. The 2005 agenda of the Office of the Surgeon General is “The Year of The Healthy Child.”

This is the most comprehensive agenda ever set forward by a U.S. Surgeon General for a single year. It includes all aspects of a child’s life — body, mind, and spirit — starting with prenatal care and going through the developmental stages of childhood and adolescence.

The good news is that 82 percent of our nation’s 70 million children are in very good or excellent health. Childhood immunization rates are at an all-time high. Our children are less likely to smoke and less likely to give birth as teenagers. These are important gains in pediatric health. But we still have some troubling problems.

One of the problems that we can and must overcome is uncontrolled asthma among children and adolescents.

On behalf of President Bush and Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, I am pleased to join the American Lung Association and the National Medical Association in working to improve asthma control for all Americans.

Today I am calling on patients and health care professionals to recognize and take the steps that science has shown can help control the symptoms and severity of asthma.

Uncontrolled asthma is an under-recognized health problem for children and adults that has significant impact on patients and their families. Millions of children and adults are not effectively controlling their asthma.

This results in missed schooldays and missed work, more emergency room visits, more hospitalizations, and life-threatening asthma attacks.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Help is available.

Although there is no cure for asthma, it is a highly manageable condition if patients and health care professionals work together to control symptoms.

The first step is to recognize the signs of uncontrolled asthma.

These signs include needing to use a rescue inhaler more than twice a week or having asthma symptoms frequently during the day or night.

The second step is for everyone with asthma and every parent of a child with asthma to talk with a health care professional and follow an asthma-control action plan.

It is time to shift the management of asthma from acute, urgent care to long-term prevention and control.

Together, we can save and improve lives, so that more children and adults can breathe easy every day of their lives.

Thank you.


Last revised: January 8, 2007