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Further Funding Required For Asthma Research

Further Funding Required For The Most Significant Child Asthma And Allergy Research Yet

At a time when many people are considering their New Year resolutions, the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand is presenting $55,000 to help sustain a significant international child research project being run in and from New Zealand.

The International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC), arguably the largest epidemiological study with children ever undertaken, is a worldwide investigation into the possible causes of asthma, rhinitis and eczema. ISAAC is currently looking for continued funding to complete Phase Three.

Jane Patterson, Foundation Executive Director says that this eminent research is invaluable to furthering our understanding of the causes of these conditions as well as in improving health outcomes for the many children affected, particularly here in New Zealand.

"It is now well known that the English speaking countries all rank amongst the highest on the prevalence scale and this research may give insight as to why."

Professor Innes Asher, Chair of the ISAAC Steering Committee, Professor of Child Health, and Professor of Paediatrics at Auckland University, says that the funding for the research here in New Zealand has been less forthcoming than hoped for.

"I am concerned that lack of funding is a major risk to the project. New Zealand has significantly contributed to ISAAC in expertise and stands to gain much from this study.”

"I am grateful to the Foundation for continuing to help in funding this research and hope that this will be a signal to other funding bodies that this is a necessary and worthwhile project."

"We consider this study as critical research on childhood asthma and have decided to dip into the Foundations reserves in order to see it continue", says Jane Patterson.

"We back their call for further financial support." ISAAC was started in 1991 due to considerable concern that there were increases in the prevalence of asthma and atopic disease worldwide. It is now in its third and final phase.

Phase One was designed to measure the prevalence of symptoms of asthma rhinitis and eczema. Phase Two used more objective markers of these conditions and ecological analyses have been undertaken. Phase Three is a repeat of Phase One to see if these conditions are increasing or not.

This phase (Phase Three) involves communicating information and data from over 280 centres in 104 countries. In many of these centres, English is not their first language. This is a massive undertaking being run from New Zealand and coordinated by Professor Innes Asher and her team at the Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, Auckland University.

The completion of ISAAC Phase Three under New Zealand leadership has the potential to impact positively on the health of all children in New Zealand, promote Maori health development and address inequalities in health within our communities.

NZ children ranked 2nd highest out of 56 countries for asthma symptom prevalence in Phase One with disproportionate severity among Maori children.

The financial and social burden of having asthma, rhinitis and eczema is enormous and includes days absent from school for children who suffer from these conditions.

New Zealand has played a key role in developing ISAAC, recruiting centres, coordinating Phases One and Three, and managing and analysing data. It is vital that this key role is able to continue so that Phase Three can be completed, both for the success of ISAAC worldwide as well as for the potential and significant health gains for New Zealand.

"Thank you to those who have already supported this research project," says Professor Innes Asher on behalf of ISAAC.

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