HC Deb 13 July 1976 vol 915 cc159-60W
Mr. Emery

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what was the total number of persons under 21 and over 60 years of age whose death was attributed to asthma in each of the last 10 years; and what steps have been taken by his Department to further the knowledge of the modern methods of treating asthma.

Dr. Owen

The information is not available in the exact form requested since the statistics identify the under-20s and those for 1966 were not on a comparable basis. Following is the information for the years 1967–1975:

Under-20s 60 and over
1967 172 678
1968 134 696
1969 104 703
1970 84 641
1971 93 599
1972 84 669
1973 81 676
1974 68 630
1975 63 687

Under the international rules for classifying diseases, asthma is not accepted as the underlying cause of death if the death certificate also mentions bronchitis or emphysema. It is estimated that if such cases were included the figures would be increased by roughly 10 per cent.

Government funded research into asthma and its treatment is carried out mainly by the Medical Research Council, which supports a range of studies into the aetiology and treatment of asthma at two of its research units and through the award of grants for three other long-term programmes of research. Further work is being undertaken in universities, hospitals and medical schools. Research into better ways of treating asthma has a high priority for the Health Departments. In 1973 the Department issued a booklet "Deaths from Asthma" prepared for doctors by the Standing Medical Advisory Committee. I am sending the hon. Member a copy.