The third report in any disease monitoring series creates the opportunity to provide unambiguous answers about the extent of the problem and the policy issues that can be addressed using the information generated. While asthma remains a large problem in Australia, and Australia remains a high prevalence country by international standards, the adoption of a rigorous approach to monitoring of asthma has allowed us to gain a clear understanding of the issues surrounding this disease.

The prevalence of asthma among children in Australia is now plateauing, if not declining. Asthma mortality in Australia is also lower than it was a few short years ago. There is now general acceptance of the overlapping nature of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in older people.

Having settled some of the epidemiological issues in asthma monitoring, this report focuses its attention on asthma in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. A special chapter deals with the extent of the problem in this most disadvantaged population group. Unfortunately, the picture for asthma is no different among Indigenous Australians than for other health issues.