Asthma is a global issue – more than 300 million people are affected by it. Globally asthma causes approximately 346 000 deaths per year. Between six and ten percent of South Africans have been diagnosed with asthma. When asthma is undiagnosed or untreated, as it often is in South Africa, it can be fatal.
Many people have asthma without knowing it. Research shows that nearly 58 900 people in South Africa die from asthma related symptoms each year. “That figure breaks down to about 14 people every day,” explains Moses. He continues by saying that the medication we have is so advancement and able to treat the disease that it’s a pity for anyone to lose their life to asthma.
Moses Kebalepile is currently registered as a PhD student at the University of Pretoria. His interest in asthma stems from his background in public health, but also because he’s seen his siblings suffer because of it. He’s in the process of creating something entirely unique that has the potential to improve the quality of life people living with asthma experience both locally and internationally. It’s an exciting technological advancement known as Asthma Grid. Moses believes unexpected asthma attacks increase the risk of fatalities – Asthma Grid is primarily an early warning system, which he hopes will make it easier for asthmatics to manage their condition.
As Moses points out, “it’s important know the causes and how to recognise the symptoms.” Patients don’t recognise the symptoms because some have never been diagnosed or purely through error. By the time most patients go to a hospital to receive treatment, their symptoms are already acute, which makes it harder to treat. Many patients who have been diagnosed also don’t use their asthma treatment correctly.
These are only some of the reasons why creating awareness about asthma in SA is so important. Moses wants people who suffer from asthma to feel more in control by having a clear understanding about what their bodies are experiencing. He’d like them to have the kind of peace of mind that comes with knowing that they’d be able to contact emergency services if they need to.
When it comes down to it, asthma related deaths can be prevented. It starts with creating awareness and knowing what symptoms to look for. Access to information is important and has the power to literally save lives. Although asthma persists over time, the upside is that it can be managed when treated correctly – allowing patients to live full and happy lives.
Moses is on of 16 social entrepreneurs chosen to take part in the Red Bull Amaphiko Academy 2017. Amaphiko Academy is a global programme that supports social entrepreneurs who are making a difference in their community and aims to inspire a broad audience to do the same.