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Fighting for the future of NZ lungs

Fighting for the future of NZ lungs

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation is searching for new solutions to the ever increasing difficulties suffered by over 800,000 New Zealanders with lung conditions. This week (24-25 August) the Foundation convenes 120 respiratory health workers from around the country at the Community Respiratory Educators’ Workshop (CREW) at the Wellington Convention Centre (114 Wakefield Street). An international panel of speakers will focus on finding innovative advances and solutions to the growing rate of lung diseases in New Zealand.

Jane Patterson, Executive Director of the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation, says that the two-day workshop will provide health professionals with the latest information on research, management and treatment of asthma and other respiratory conditions.

“We have one of the highest prevalence rates in the world, so we need to look at new ways to assist the growing number of people with lung disease. We see CREW as a great way to gather experts, from the researchers to the front line health professionals, and to battle it out together to find new answers to long standing problems.”

The conference’s theme “Towards the Future” has special significance for the respiratory health of young people. Working with teenagers is a particular challenge and the conference will offer creative solutions for encouraging young people to make healthy choices and become proactive in managing their asthma and other respiratory conditions.

An esteemed international panel of guest speakers includes:
Professor Susan Sawyer (Chair of Adolescent Health in the Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne)
Professor Sawyer has a special interest in the interface between adolescent development and chronic illness, and will present an overview of adolescent development in terms of physical, cognitive and psychosocial growth and maturation.

Health professionals dealing with teenagers commonly ask questions like “Why won’t they do what I ask them to do? Why are they so unconcerned about their health? How can I get them to take more medication? Why do they continue to smoke with asthma?”

Professor Sawyer will provide a framework for supporting young people’s growing capacity for self-management, which focuses on the power of engagement with young people as a clinical tool.”
Astrid von Sommaruga (Director of Learn4POTENTIAL)
Astrid will offer new ways to think about learning and is presenting a workshop on innovative and practical techniques to help with ‘teenager buy-in’ to a healthier lifestyle.

Professor Robin Taylor, (University of Otago, School of Medicine)
Professor Taylor will discuss an exciting new technological advance in the diagnosis of asthma using exhaled nitric oxide (NO) measurements in clinical practice. The test allows clinicians to identify steroid responsiveness in patients with non-specific airway symptoms. It can also be used to assess dose requirements using inhaled steroids. In patients with difficult asthma this is particularly helpful.

The conference will also address other concerns for the future of our respiratory health in New Zealand. Associate Professor Jenny Alison, (Coordinator of Master of Health Science, University of Sydney), will present a workshop on the newly developed Pulmonary Rehabilitation Toolkit which will allow physiotherapists and nurses to put evidence into practice in the area of pulmonary rehabilitation for patients with COPD.

In addition, Dianne Wepa, (Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Health & Sport Science, Eastern Institute of Technology Hawkes Bay), will present on kawa whakaruruhau (cultural safety), and Dr Bob Hancox, (Respiratory Physician, Waikato Hospital), will discuss the latest research on asthma and obesity.

This event is proving to be a valuable tool in assisting frontline health workers in their struggle to combat the alarming increase of respiratory disease in New Zealand.


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