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Kicking the cough

Media Statement

Wednesday 17 August 2005

Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand (Inc.)

Kicking the cough

We know that one in four of our children has asthma, but most people don't know that New Zealand children are increasingly affected by third world respiratory diseases. Our country now has one of the highest incidence rates of respiratory illness in the developed world.

Alarmingly, terrifying diseases like bronchiectasis are on the increase in New Zealand. Paediatric pneumonia is more common here than in other industralised countries and a poor record of immunisation translates into high incidence rates of pertussis - a disease which has now reached epidemic proportions.

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation after consultation with Starship Respiratory Services has recently launched a campaign to alert parents to the dangers of prolonged coughing. A vibrant and eye-catching collection of posters and brochures are being distributed throughout the country to healthcare workers for their patients. The resources are available to order at

Starship Respiratory Services paediatrician Dr Liz Edwards talks about the need to educate as many parents and caregivers as we can.

"The message is clear, if a child coughs for more than 6--8 weeks, then this may be a sign of a serious lung problem. The child should be seen by a doctor. We are being referred children for a diagnosis too late, sometimes up to two years after their cough develops, when serious lung scarring has already happened."

Jane Patterson, Executive Director of the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation says that New Zealand statistics are horrifying.

"We are often oblivious to people coughing around us. If they have been coughing for a long time, we may consider it normal behaviour. It is not. The consequences of untreated respiratory disease are frightening.

It is not acceptable that our children are suffering from preventable respiratory diseases."


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