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King Speech: National Maori Asthma Management Plan

National Maori Asthma Management Plan

Launch, Beehive Foyer

Thursday, March 30, 2000

Important And Timely Resource



I feel a great deal of satisfaction at being involved in the launch today of the first national Maori Asthma Plan.

There could hardly be a more important occasion, particularly as far as the health of children is concerned.

Asthma is so common in New Zealand that it affects approximately one in six New Zealanders. Generally the symptoms begin in childhhood, and, in fact, the prevalence of childhood asthma has increased over the last 20 to 30 years. That is a worldwide trend in which New Zealand sadly participates.

It is estimated that 44 percent of New Zealand children experience asthma symptoms at some time before they are 15 years of age.

The more fortunate side of the story is that few New Zealand children now die from asthma, because of improved medication and clinical management.

Many children are still hospitalised, however, and Maori children are hospitalised or die with asthma at least twice as much as other children. That is just one more health statistic which hurts Maori people, just one more Maori health statistic this Government is determined to help turn around.

That is why the launch of the National Maori Asthma Management Plan today is so important. This new national plan will help educate Maori people about the management of their asthma. Access to quality primary health care and good personal management of asthma are essential pre-requisites if the disparity in rates of hospitalisation is to be tackled effectively.

Adequate preventive medical care and asthma management, by children themselves, and by their whanau, will also help reduce the number of serious attacks. There are relatively simple things that can be done in the family environment. Reducing the exposure of children to tobacco smoking is one example.

This new resource is special, of course, because it is Maori in inspiration and design. The plan focuses on tamariki up to the age of 14, the group which suffers the highest rates of asthma.

Successful Maori health services and resources are those that use a holistic approach and are delivered by Maori in a whanau and culturally appropriate setting. That is what this programme is all about. I would like to add that the Government is committed to fully encouraging the development of culturally appropriate health services as part of our determination to reduce the serious health disadvantages Maori face, and as part of a wider holistic approach to whanau, hapu and iwi development.

I congratulate Te Ha o te Ora Trust on developing this programme, and the Health Funding Authority for supporting it enthusiastically.

Story telling is an effective way of educating Maori children. Telling a story that teaches children and their whanau how to manage their own health is a particularly inspiring message. The story of Maui seeking wellness is inspiring and positive in its imagery. Like Maui, we must all be innovative, positive, affirmative and unique. We must take responsibility for ourselves.

I should finally mention that the launch of this plan is particularly timely in Asthma Week. The Asthma Foundation has developed the Asthma Friendly School Initiative that is also being promoted this week. This resource will help teachers and principals provide a safe, supportive environment for children who have asthma, and help these children live a full life of achievement.

I am sure this first National Maori Asthma Plan will achieve the same result. Thank you for inviting me to launch it, and thank you for all the wonderful, sensitive work put into developing it.


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