The GINA Ambassador Program was designed by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) to recognize the contributions of individuals to improving asthma diagnosis, management, and control. Many clinicians and health care workers are involved in asthma management throughout the world. These individuals form a crucial network to ensure that GINA’s evidence-based asthma management strategy is widely disseminated and implemented at a national and regional level.
The GINA Ambassador program highlights individuals who are involved in taking care of asthma patients in the clinic, improving public policy around asthma care, implementing GINA management strategies in their local community, developing asthma education materials, building multidisciplinary asthma care teams, and organizing World Asthma Day activities.
The first GINA Ambassador was named on World Asthma Day, May 5, 2015 and each month, another individual will be named. The GINA Board of Directors selects Ambassadors for each month at its annual meeting. Profiles of the GINA Ambassadors are posted on this page each month.
The GINA Ambassadors from June through September, 2015 were honored at a ceremony held during the European Respiratory Society meeting in Amsterdam this fall.
July 2016 | Dr. Jose Rosado Pinto MD
Dr. Jose Rosado Pinto is the Head of the Immunoallergology Department Hospital da Luz, in Lisbon, Portugal. Dr. Pinto has 35 years experience in diagnosing, treating and monitoring asthma as a Pediatric Allergologost. His involvement as a Consultant with the Portuguesa Directorate of General of Health MoH and as a member of the European Asthma Research and Innovation Partnership have allowed for great contributions to the advancement of asthma care. Dr. Pinto has also been the coordinator of several asthma educational and care programs in cooperation with Portuguese speaking countries, including workshops and lectures.
Dr. Pinto has also been instrumental in positioning the GINA Strategy Reports as the International Reference for the Asthma National Program and the National Program of Respiratory Diseases in Portugal. He served as the President of the Portuguese Society of Allergology and Clinical Immunology in 2000, when GINA was introduced in Portugal. His efforts in dissemination have included developing booklets on asthma prevention, control and treatment for children and adolescents, videos on asthma, and school based asthma initiatives. Ever dedicated to children, Dr. Pinto has coordinated asthma camps for children for fifteen years with the collaboration of other asthma healthcare providers, and has worked in Cabo Verde.
February 2016 | Professor Richard Beasley
Professor Richard Beasley is a respiratory physician with a special interest in asthma practicing at Wellington Hospital in New Zealand.
In addition to his clinical practice, Professor Beasley has been deeply involved in the Asthma Foundation of New Zealand. His work as part of the Foundation’s Expert Advisory Group and in helping to draft its National Respiratory Strategy have enabled him to advocate for public policy to improve asthma care. He served as head of the committee that drafted the Asthma Foundation of New Zealand Adult Asthma Quick Reference Guide, which is based on GINA documents. He also worked on developing patient education materials related to an asthma self-management plan system of care promoted through the Asthma Foundation of New Zealand.
Professor Beasley has made an enormous contribution to World Asthma Day through his work on the GINA Global Burden of Asthma Report, which was launched on World Asthma Day 2004, and remains one of the most comprehensive current assessments of the burden of asthma worldwide.
Professor Beasley would also like to recognize the following collaborators, who have made especially great contributions to the success of asthma implementation programs in New Zealand: Professor Bob Hancox, former Medical Director, Asthma Foundation of New Zealand, Professor Julian Crane, University of Otago Wellington, Co-developer of asthma self-management plan system of care.
January 2016 | Ewa Niżankowska-Mogilnicka MD, PhD, FACCP
Ewa Niżankowska-Mogilnicka works in the Department of Pulmonary Diseases of the Jagiellonian University School of Medicine in Krakow, Poland, part of a team that manages the most severe asthma patients. She has also served as the Regional Consultant in Pulmonary Diseases for the Malopolska Voivodship, a province in southern Poland, during which time she advised local authorities on organization of care, quality measures, and other issues concerning asthma care.
Dr. Niżankowska-Mogilnicka supervised the translation of the GINA Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention into Polish. Several updates of this document have been made available for Polish physicians both in printed and online format. She has been involved in educational activities aimed at implementation of the GINA strategy, such as lectures at conferences and workshops, and also in the development of training programs and board certification examinations in respiratory diseases. She has also helped to organize World Asthma Day activities in Poland every year since 1998.
Moreover, as section editor for respiratory diseases of the most popular textbook on internal medicine in Poland (Interna Szczeklika) and author of the chapter on asthma, she based information on the management of asthma on the latest GINA recommendations. These recommendations are also prominent in print and online educational materials for medical students and asthma patients developed under consultation with Dr. Niżankowska-Mogilnicka by the Medycyna Praktyczna Publishing House.
Dr. Niżankowska-Mogilnicka would also like to thank the following collaborators, who have made especially great contributions to the success of asthma implementation programs in Poland:
Piotr Gajewski MD, PhD, FACP
Marek Kowalski, MD, PhD
Piotr Kuna, MD, PhD
Filip Mejza, MD, PhD
Barbara Rogala, MD, PhD
December 2015 | Tow Keang Lim, MMed, FRCP
Dr. Tow Keang Lim is Professor of Medicine and Senior Consultant at the National University Hospital in Singapore, and Director of the Singapore National Asthma Program.
In his role at the National University Hospital, Dr. Lim coordinates care for adult patients with asthma. In addition, Dr. Lim has been the director of the Singapore National Asthma Program (SNAP) since its inception in 2001. This program is funded by the Ministry of Health with a mandate to improve asthma care and reduce the burden of disease.
Asthma clinics in public hospitals and government polyclinics adhere to management plans and key performance indicators designed by the SNAP. Dr. Lim and his SNAP colleagues have been involved in producing the various iterations of the Singapore asthma guideline, which incorporates key elements of the GINA Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention. The group also delivers regular CME to GPs and primary care physicians.
The SNAP designs, monitors, reviews, and reports on the performance and outcome of asthma care for both pediatric and adult patients at hospitals and polyclinics nationwide. Key performance indicators are collated and this information is provided to individual care teams for to help them improve asthma care.
Every year on World Asthma Day, the SNAP coordinates nationwide asthma education efforts. These have included workshops and seminars on inhaler technique and different inhaler devices for GPs, assistants in GP clinics, and the public; public forums and activities aimed at identifying and addressing opportunities for improved asthma control; and running and fitness outings for children in collaboration with the KKH/NUH asthma clubs.
This work on engaging students, patients, and the public in asthma education continues year-round. The SNAP regularly conducts talks, video, radio, and TV interviews about asthma. Dr. Lim and his colleagues also create asthma education material for the Health Promotion Board, which is the local public education arm of the Ministry of Health. This includes education material for schools, mosques and madrassas. Finally, the SNAP also advises the Singapore Armed Forces on asthma care for servicemen.
In addition, Dr. Lim would like to thank the following individuals who have made especially great contributions to the success of asthma implementation programs in Singapore: Professor Chay Oh Moh, KK Children & Women’s Hospital; Associate Professor John Abisheganaden, Tan Tock Seng Hospital; Dr. Tan Ngiap Chuan, Singhealth Polyclinics; Dr. Tang Wern Ee, National Healthcare Polyclinics; and Ms. Wong Wai Mun, National Healthcare Group.
November 2015 | Professor Jiangtao Lin
Jiangtao Lin is Professor and Director of the Department of Respiratory Diseases at China-Japan Friendship Hospital of Peking University in Beijing, China. He is President of the Chinese Association of Chest Physicians (CACP), President-Elect of the Chinese Thoracic Society (CTS), and Chairman of the China Asthma Alliance (CAA).
Professor Lin helped incorporate asthma into the Chinese Ministry of Health’s Chronic Disease Management Program, which has improved the public policy focus on the condition. He has also brought together many different health professionals in multidisciplinary asthma teams. The China Asthma Alliance (CAA), which was founded in 2005 and now has 30 provincial branches, consists of pulmonologists, allergists, and pediatricians. CAA has also licensed 48 asthma clinics throughout the country.
Professor Lin established the Asthma School and Asthma Club in 1995 to aid in care of asthma patients. The groups now boast more than 1,200 members, and hold workshops every 2 months.
He has organized World Asthma Day activities every year since 2006, including public education activities, press conferences, free clinics and online consultations for patients, and distribution of more than 50,000 World Asthma Day posters throughout the country.
Professor Lin has also undertaken asthma education activities that operate year-round. He founded the Website of the China Asthma Alliance (www.chinaasthma.net) and Wechat, another Chinese asthma community. He and his team also edited a series of five asthma education pamphlets which are distributed free of charge to asthma patients.
Professor Lin and his team have adapted and implemented the GINA documents for Chinese local conditions. They revised the Chinese guidelines for asthma prevention and management in 2003 and 2008. Additionally, Professor Lin has organized asthma education programs for physicians – a total of 658 continuing medical education sessions in 352 cities over ten consecutive years beginning in 2005. The program has reached over 50,000 physicians in 30 provinces so far. Professor Lin has also organized a National Seminar on Asthma Prevention and Management every year.
Professor Lin would like to acknowledge the following individuals, who have made especially great contributions to the success of asthma implementation programs in China:
Kaisheng Yin, The First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University
Xin Zhou, First People’s Hospital Affiliated to Shanghai Jiaotong University
Ping Chen, General Hospital of Shenyang Military
Chuntao Liu, West China Hospital, Sichuan University
Changzheng Wang, Xinqiao Hospital, Third Military Medical University
Photos of asthma activities in China: China Asthma Alliance founded in 2005; An online asthma consultation; Continuing medical education seminar; Asthma school.
October 2015 | Hugo Neffen, MD
Hugo Neffen is Head of the Respiratory Medicine Unit at Orlando Alassia Children’s Hospital in Santa Fe, Argentina. He is also Director of the Center of Allergy, Immunology and Respiratory Diseases. Dr. Neffen previously served as President of the Asociación Argentina de Alergia e Inmunología (2001-2002), President of the International Association of Asthmology (2003-2006), and Director of the Asthma Department ALAT (2002-2006).
Dr. Neffen has been treating children and adults suffering from allergic respiratory diseases at the Center of Allergy, Immunology and Respiratory Diseases since 1980. In 1990, he founded the allergy office at the Children’s Hospital in Santa Fe, which later became the Respiratory Medicine Unit, and treats patients with bronchial asthma, COPD, rhinitis, and other respiratory conditions.
The Respiratory Medicine Unit has become a model of interdisciplinary asthma care, with allergologists, pulmonologists, psychologists, physical education teachers, kinesiologists, and nurses all working together to improve patients’ lung health. In addition to assisting patients, the unit has organized educational talks for parents and family members, as well as Saturday sports activities in collaboration with physical education teachers and the Department of Sports of Santa Fe province.
Dr. Neffen has also worked for improved asthma care at a public policy level. He was instrumental in bringing about the May 2014 launch of Argentina’s National Program for the Control of Chronic Respiratory Diseases, which aims to reduce asthma and COPD hospital admissions and mortality. He also promoted the development of a national survey to determine asthma prevalence in adults in Argentina, which was completed in November 2014.
After the official launch of GINA in Argentina in December 1995, Dr. Neffen worked closely with Dr. Carlos Baena-Cagnani to organize symposia and workshops around the country, reaching 5,000 physicians. He also helped organize a team of allergologists and pulmonologists from around Argentina to produce a Spanish translation of the GINA Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention. The translated document later became the focus of a distance education course endorsed by the National University of Rosario in which 4,500 primary care physicians participated.
In 1996 and 1997, the geographic reach of these activities expanded, with workshops organized to disseminate the GINA strategy in Uruguay, Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador, and two cities in Mexico. Altogether, 5,900 physicians from throughout Latin America countries participated in these symposia and workshops. Dr. Neffen and his team have also held meetings for patients and physical education teachers based on the GINA documents, and distributed educational fliers aimed at patients, during national meetings of allergy pulmonology specialists.
Finally, Dr. Neffen has been an instrumental part of World Asthma Day celebrations in Argentina, assisting with activities including educational meetings for patients, families, and school and physical education teachers; spirometry measurements in public places; and marathons “to breathe better.”
Dr. Neffen would especially like to thank Carlos Baena Cagnani, MD; Gustavo Rodrigo, MD; Jorge Máspero, MD; psychologist Rita Baravalle; and nurse Mercedes Alarcón, who have been instrumental in the success of GINA implementation programs in Argentina.
Photos of asthma activities in Argentina:
September 2015 | Rafael Stelmach, PhD
Rafael Stelmach, PhD, is professor and medical assistant in the pulmonary division of the Heart Institute (InCor), which is part of the Cardio-Pulmonary Department at the University of São Paulo School of Medicine Hospital and Clinics in Brazil. He also serves as coordinator of the scientific advisory committee on asthma and COPD for São Paulo State.
Many asthma patients with severe, poorly controlled asthma are referred to the outpatient clinic at the hospital, enabling Dr. Stelmach and his team to investigate factors that interfere with asthma control and making them a nationwide resource on difficult-to-control asthma. They have also designed specific protocols covering various aspects of asthma care and comorbidities, and these serve as an example for asthma care throughout Brazil.
Dr. Stelmach has been working on obstructive lung disease at InCor since 1994, starting as a fellow and eventually rising to become leader of the group. Over the course of his career, he has been involved in a number of efforts to make inhaled corticosteroids more widely available for asthma treatment, including participating in National Asthma Conferences and co-authoring National Asthma Guidelines.
GINA concepts have been a cornerstone of Dr. Stelmach’s teaching and treatment of asthma. He has given hundreds of presentations and lectures based on GINA flow charts and tables and translated resources such as the GINA Teaching Slide Set into Brazilian Portuguese. Lately, the hospital has developed an increased focus on patient compliance and treatment adherence, using GINA educational recommendations to design interventions such as inhaler technique scores, knowledge questionnaires, and action plans.
Since 1999, when Brazil instituted a national asthma day on June 21, Dr. Stelmach’s team has participated in this event with educational materials and media interviews aimed at increasing knowledge of asthma. Since 2005, they have carried out free public screening events in Ibirapuera Park – São Paulo City’s “green lung.” Dr. Stelmach has also translated and distributed World Asthma Day materials into Brazilian Portuguese.
Dr. Stelmach has always been closely involved in efforts to address problems related to asthma and respiratory diseases in his local community. In 1998-9, he helped design and carry out an educational program around the health effects of smoke in the Brazilian Amazon, part of an effort to change the traditional practices of burning trash and burning forest for land clearing.
His team has also developed a series of banners aimed at reaching patients and families with limited literacy skills. The banners feature simple asthma education messages and two appealing superheroes: Super Bronchodilator and the Inhaled Steroid Kid, both “fighting together against the dangers of asthma.”
Most recently, after surveys revealed that only 30% of local junior doctors and 30% of patients know correct inhaler techniques, they created videos teaching the correct use of the most common inhaler devices in Brazil, which are freely available at http://www.incor.usp.br/sites/incor2013/videos/asma-dpoc/index.html.
Dr. Stelmach has also been involved in efforts to develop multidisciplinary asthma care teams in his hospital and nationwide. He would especially like to recognize the work of the collaborators in various specialties who have helped make his work a success, including pulmonologists Alberto Cukier, MD, and Regina Maria Carvalho-Pinto, MD; chest therapist Celso Ricardo Fernandes de Carvalho, PhD; pediatric pulmonologist Maria Helena Ferreira Bussamra, MD; and family physician Sonia Maria Martins, MD.
More information about activities related to asthma awareness in Brazil and translations of GINA documents and resources can be found at www.ginanobrasil.org.br.
August 2015 | Prof. Hesham Tarraf, MD, FCRP
Prof. Hesham Tarraf, MD, FCRP is a professor of medicine and allergy at Cairo University in Egypt. He is vice-president of the Egyptian Society of Allergy and Immunology, serves as the overseas regional advisor of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh, and is a member of the GINA Assembly.
Prof. Tarraf founded the Allergy Unit within the Department of Internal Medicine at Cairo University in 1988, and has headed the unit ever since. He has treated patients at a private allergy and asthma clinic since 1980, and has supervised asthma clinics at the New Kasr El-Ainy Teaching Hospital and AsSalam International Hospital since 1995. He has helped create multidisciplinary asthma care teams involving allergists, pulmonologists, pediatricians, and ENT specialists in the hospitals where he works, also organizing grand rounds and conferences for the management of severe and hard-to-treat cases.
By participating in asthma training programs through the Egyptian Ministry of Health, promoting inhaled therapy for asthma, and designing undergraduate and postgraduate courses on asthma for Cairo University, Prof. Tarraf has been involved in education and public policy work to improve asthma care. He has also delivered lectures on asthma and asthma medications to undergraduates and postgraduates since 1988, holds asthma awareness sessions for the public, and regularly speaks about asthma to various media outlets. Finally, he serves as a consultant for the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office on asthma and COPD.
Prof. Tarraf has been involved in implementing GINA asthma management strategies in Egypt by making regular presentations at several asthma, allergy, respiratory and internal medicine society meetings. He initiated the development of a local pocket guide for asthma management by the Internal Medicine Department of Cairo University. He also makes regular visits to different areas of Egypt to train doctors on asthma management, GINA strategies, and inhaled therapy.
Prof. Tarraf initiated an Asthma Awareness Day for both physicians and patients in Egypt in May 1993, which has been celebrated annually since then. He has also participated in World Asthma Day since 2001, organizing Egypt’s celebration of the day by coordinating activities with the Egyptian Society of Allergy & Immunology, the Egyptian Society of Chest Diseases & Tuberculosis, and the Egyptian Scientific Society of Bronchology. Annual World Asthma Day activities have included an Asthma Congress for physicians, press conferences on asthma for public awareness, and patient and public awareness campaigns such as sports activities, an asthma walk and run, spirometry, and inhaler education.
July 2015 | Dr. Patrick Manning, Ireland
Patrick Manning, MD, PhD, DCH, FCCP, FRCPI, is Associate Professor of Medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, located in Dublin, and serves as the National Clinical Lead for Ireland’s National Clinical Programme for Asthma (NCPA). He has published many scientific papers on asthma and has been involved in national and international research collaborations.
Aside from this Dr. Manning is actively engaged in clinical work, with a post as Consultant Respiratory Physician at Mullingar Regional Hospital. He treats adolescent and adult patients with a wide variety of respiratory and sleep-related conditions, but has a particular focus on asthma and allergy.
Dr. Manning was appointed as the National Clinical Lead for the NCPA in 2010. This program of the Royal College of Physicians (RCPI) in Ireland and the Health Service Executive (HSE) is tasked with developing and implementing a national asthma strategy. The need for such a strategy is acute in Ireland, where approximately 10 percent of the population, or 450,000 individuals, have been diagnosed with asthma. About 21% of Irish children have asthma, and still the disease is thought to be under-diagnosed and often uncontrolled.
NCPA aims to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with asthma in Ireland, improve clinical outcomes, and improve the quality of life for patients with asthma. A centerpiece of the strategy is to improve clinical management of people with asthma in primary care, which in turn will help to avoid emergency visits and hospital admissions, as well as preventing deaths from asthma.
While the NCPA emphasizes management of asthma in primary care, a multidisciplinary team is necessary to manage the disease, and Dr. Manning has been involved in organizing the roles of community pharmacists, specialist physicians, and respiratory nurses in the community to support an asthma patient’s general practitioner and practice nurse.
NCPA has developed national asthma guidelines for managing patients with asthma in primary care, as well as adult and pediatric emergency care guidelines. Working with the Asthma Society of Ireland (ASI) and the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP), NCPA has developed a six-part online education program for health care professionals based on these guidelines. Education programs are also available for general practitioners and healthcare staff members. Up to date Information to assist guided self-management of asthma is also available for patients and their families and carers.
Finally, Dr. Manning has been involved in World Asthma Day activities for many years. Until 2010, he participated in a voluntary capacity with the Asthma Society of Ireland as the Chair of the Medical Committee and as a Board Member leading in the World Asthma Day activities, and since 2010 the Asthma Society continues these WAD activities in partnership with the NCPA.
June 2015 | Dr. Le Thi Tuyet Lan, Vietnam
Dr. Le Thi Tuyet Lan is head of the Respiratory Care Center at the University of Pharmacy and Medicine in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Since 2000, she has been working to develop a network of Asthma and COPD Care Units (ACOCUs) which now includes 105 units across the country, organized at district and provincial levels. She was also instrumental in launching a National Program for Asthma and COPD in Vietnam.
Dr. Lan focuses on improving the care of individual respiratory patients. She helped persuade the country’s Ministry of Health to promote the control of asthma and COPD, rather than treating patients during exacerbations only. She is deeply involved in the dissemination of the GINA strategy for asthma management and control, giving lectures on the GINA documents, translating these documents, and applying the GINA strategy at the University Medical Center where she works.
She has also been active in promoting asthma education. Each year, Dr. Lan’s team celebrates World Asthma Day by organizing free asthma and COPD screenings and holding and continuing medical education classes for health care workers. She has written books on spirometry and asthma management, as well as articles about asthma for the general public, website content, and leaflets and other educational materials distributed to asthma patient clubs.
Dr. Lan hopes to build a model for a multidisciplinary asthma care team in her University Medical Center and eventually disseminate this model to the whole country. She is grateful for the colloaboration of a number of individuals, including:
Lương Ngọc Khuê – Chief, Department of Treatment, Ministry of Health, Vietnam
Trần Văn Ngọc – Vice Dean, Faculty of Medicine, University of Pharmacy and Medicine Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Ngô Quý Châu – Vice Director, Bạch Mai Hospital, Hanoi, Vietnam
Lương Thị Thuận – Director, College Of Medicine, Tay Ninh, Vietnam
Nguyễn Thị Cẩm Hồng – Head Of Nursing, University Medical Center, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
May 2015 | Dr. Chen Yu Zhi, China
Dr. Chen Yu Zhi is a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of the Capital Institute of Pediatrics in Beijing, China.
She has been a leader in promoting good asthma management in China since 1987, when she helped establish the National Asthma Cooperation and introduce inhaled treatment to China.
She was also involved in the founding of the Asthma Prevention and Education Center in 1992, which has achieved improvements in the management of childhood asthma in China through implementation of GINA’s step-wise treatment approach, an emphasis on inhaled therapy, and individualized management.
Finally, she was one of the founders of the Beijing Community Health Promotion Center of Allergy and Asthma in 2014, which uses written publications, videos, activities, and other communications channels to introduce asthma knowledge into the daily life of the public.
Dr. Chen continues to collaborate with her fellow physicians to promote and implement the GINA strategy through trainings covering the GINA documents, technology for early diagnosis, and management of asthma in young children. In addition, she is one of the forces behind the annual National Childhood Asthma & Allergic Disease Conference, which promotes updated information in asthma and improvement of asthma diagnosis and treatment skills among pediatricians in China.
Since 1998, Dr. Chen has been involved in organizing World Asthma Day activities with doctors, children with asthma, and their parents. Her team also organizes many other asthma awareness activities, such as monthly asthma education seminars, a summer camp for children with asthma, and sporting events. The goal of these efforts is to improve asthma awareness among children with asthma and their parents, and improve outcomes for asthma patients.
Dr. Chen thanks Dr. Liu Chuanhe, Luo Yanqing, Zhang Yun, and Qi Huang who have made especially great contributions to the success of the implementation programs she has undertaken.