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Workers Address 3rd World Respiratory Disease Rate

Media Statement
Thursday 5 May 2005

Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand (Inc.)

Health Workers Address Third World Respiratory Disease Rates

Respiratory Educators from around the country are gathering today in a combined effort to address the appalling rates of preventable respiratory disease in New Zealand. The two-day Community Respiratory Educators' Workshop (CREW) in Wellington is convened by the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand (Inc.), and follows World Asthma Day on 3 May 2005.

Professor Innes Asher of the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Auckland and paediatrician at Starship Children's Health is among the presenters at the event, and seeks to highlight the increasing prevalence of severe respiratory illness, including bronchiectasis. Professor Asher says she is alarmed by the increase in New Zealand of many "third world" respiratory diseases that are preventable.

"Governmental policies need to be reassessed in order to address factors contributing to children living in poverty -- including access to adequate income, housing, health care, nutrition and immunisation."

Other keynote speakers will examine the latest research on bronchiectasis, tuberculosis, infection control, and persistent coughing in children as symptoms of possible chronic respiratory disease. The workshop will also cover x-ray interpretation and the latest techniques in inhaler use, self management plans, the teaching of correct breathing patterns and motivational interviewing.

Respiratory Educators include practice nurses, community health workers and educators working in asthma societies, Primary Health Organisations and District Health Boards.

Jane Patterson, Executive Director of the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of NZ (Inc.), says that the workshop will provide Respiratory Educators with the latest information on research, management and treatment of asthma and other respiratory conditions.

"At the moment, one in six New Zealanders have asthma, including one in four children, making our respiratory disease rates among the highest in the world."

"Rates of respiratory disease are expected to increase over the next two decades, so Respiratory Educators will play an increasingly vital role in teaching people how to manage their respiratory condition to stay as well as possible."

For further information, please contact: Jane Patterson, Executive Director, Asthma and Respiratory Foundation on 021-332-237.

Background:

- New Zealand has one of the highest rates of respiratory disease in the world.

- Asthma is the most common cause of child hospital admissions.

- It is estimated that asthma costs New Zealand $825 million per year in direct and indirect costs.

- 1 in every 200 deaths is due to asthma.

- It is estimated that 300 million people worldwide have asthma.

- COPD affects approximately 200,000 people in New Zealand.

- Bronchiectasis affects more than one in 700 pacific children.

- Rates of pneumonia in children are 5 times higher in New Zealand than other similar countries.

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of NZ (Inc.) is a non-governmental charitable organisation that provides education, information, advocacy and research on asthma and other respiratory conditions. See http://www.asthmanz.co.nz/ for more information.


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