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Break down 'silos' to improve respiratory health

A call to Government: break down 'silos' to improve respiratory health

Respiratory disease affects our most vulnerable. We know the statistics in our country are incredibly high, but it brings it home when we read families’ stories of their young children being affected by bronchiectasis, which as Dr Byrnes stated in today's NZ Herald article is a “third world” disease normally representative of patients in their eighties.

There is still a long way to go to address the respiratory health inequities, to improve the overall high rates of respiratory illness throughout New Zealand, and this can’t be achieved without government action.

“We currently do not see respiratory disease as a Ministry of Health, DHB or even a PHO stand-alone health target, with dedicated funding against it,” says Letitia O’Dwyer, Chief Executive of the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ.

The target that the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ advocates the next government to act upon, is to “Reduce emergency visits for acute respiratory illnesses by 20 per cent within the next five years”.

The next government elected is advised by the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ to start thinking outside of singular portfolio areas, and set a national respiratory health target that crosses the silos of the following government portfolios:

• Health

• Māori Development

• Pacific Peoples

• Social Housing

• Education

• Social Development

• Social Investment

• Whānau Ora

“It’s obvious that one organisation or agency cannot act alone to address poverty, unhealthy housing and inadequate basic health care. There is a strong need for a government approach that ‘sees the bigger picture’ and works across all areas focusing on prevention,” says O’Dwyer.

“The Foundation is implementing a project that partners with a healthcare provider in South Auckland, to deliver action plans in schools around respiratory health. Our aim is to reduce the disproportionate hospitalisation rates amongst people most at risk,” says O’Dwyer.

It is envisaged that the success of this project will establish the need for similar models to be rolled out across the country in the future.

“The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ has over 50 years' experience under our belt, and we are right here poised to help the next government achieve this recommended target,” says O’Dwyer.


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