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Link between poverty and poor respiratory health

Asthma Foundation statistics support Child Poverty Monitor link between poverty and poor respiratory health

The latest figures from the Respiratory Health Impact Report commissioned by the Asthma Foundation support the Child Poverty Monitor figures noting poverty as a major driver for poor respiratory health in New Zealand.

In a press release by the Child Poverty Monitor, Dr Jean Simpson, the NZCYES’s Director notes “The negative health outcomes associated with child poverty are also starkly apparent in our high rates of hospital admissions for infectious and respiratory diseases. These diseases include bronchiolitis, acute upper respiratory infections, pneumonia and rheumatic fever, which can have lifelong implications for those who have suffered them in childhood. Reducing the number of young children living in poverty is critical to improving the health of the whole population”.

The Respiratory Health Impact Report 2013 highlighted that inequalities in health by socio-economic deprivation were marked - often with the effect of deprivation close to exponential. For example those in the most deprived quintile were:

2.9 times as likely to be hospitalised with a respiratory condition;
3.2 times as likely to be hospitalised for asthma;
5.4 times as likely to be hospitalised for childhood bronchiolitis - the combined effect of ethnicity and deprivation meant Maori and Pacific children in the least deprived were more than 8 times as likely to be hospitalised.
Translating these numbers into actual people would result in around 350 children from wealthy homes being admitted to hospital for bronchiolitis compared to nearly 3000 admissions from the poorest households.

Angela Francis, chief executive of the Asthma Foundation says “these startling statistics are a call to action to the government. This again demonstrates the link between poverty, the social determinants of health and poor respiratory outcomes. Until these issues including housing, low incomes and access to healthcare are addressed it will always be a struggle for the poorest people to achieve and maintain good respiratory health status


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