United States, El Puente: Asthma Mastery in Action, 1998-2002

Asthma Mastery in Action is the name of a 4-year program launched at El Puente, with support from the Childhood Asthma Initiative of the New York City Department of Public Health, to improve knowledge about asthma and asthma management in the community. Evidence-based planning gave the program focus, and door to door surveys assured awareness and participation at the household level. A group of community health workers, youth and adults, working in their own neighborhoods, were the backbone of the program. Asthma education began with the community health promoters, El Puente staff and students, and worked outward gradually to the entire community. Health promoters gave asthma workshops to churches and other community organizations and staffed asthma booths at community events. A mural, designed and painted by El Puente youth, depicting asthma’s effects on the community and how people are responding to it, covered the exposed wall of a three-story high corner building in the heart of the community. TV and radio spots, designed by youth for youth, talked of asthma triggers and asthma management. The theme of asthma helped, in these and other ways, to provide focus for a process of community reflection and community learning, starting from people’s own perceptions of a major public health problem. CIET’s contribution to all of this was chiefly in the area of evidence-gathering, analysis and dissemination. In August 1999, with logistic and other support from CIETinternational and CIETnicaragua, five of the health promoters traveled to Nicaragua to exchange experience with youth and adult health promoters there.