The University of Arizona has partnered with the American Lung Association in Arizona to provide asthma care in 16 TUSD elementary schools starting in the fall.

Approximately 120,000 Arizona children have asthma, according to a news release from the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona. Asthma attacks lead to 3,000 hospitalizations each year, costing Arizonans approximately $24 million in direct medical costs.

Overall, the medical costs of children with asthma are double those of children without asthma.

"The greatest burden of asthma disproportionally falls upon low-income and minority children," the release said. "One of the most important causes of poor asthma control is limited access to, and inconsistent use of, daily medications such as inhaled corticosteroids."

Tucson Unified School District students will enroll in the program with parental consent. The Supervised Asthma Medicine in Schools program will be provide students with an asthma action plan, daily asthma medication and quick-relief medication at no cost. Students also will receive the American Lung Association’s Open Airways in Schools curriculum to strengthen their asthma self-management skills.

Students’ use of the medication, number of asthma symptom days, number of visits to the school’s health office and number of school absences will be used to determine how well the program works.

“Our schools are strong advocates for child health and are a logical place to reach children with asthma,"  said Dr. Lynn B. Gerald, associate dean for research at the UA Zuckerman College of Public Health and a scientist in the Arizona Respiratory Center. "Providing asthma care in schools makes sense because children with asthma symptoms frequently miss school and may fall behind academically.

Previous research from Alabama elementary schools showed that supervising daily asthma medication at school increased adherence and reduced the number of episodes of poor asthma control," the news release said.

The participating TUSD schools are: Bonillas, Davidson, Dietz, Ford, Hollinger, Howell, Johnson, Maldonado, Myers-Ganoung, Ochoa, Oyama, Pueblo Gardens, Robison, Tolson, Van Buskirk and Wheeler.

Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at or 573-4175. On Twitter @AlexisHuicochea​

Education writer for #ThisIsTucson. Mom of one.