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Poverty and poor housing underlying causes of disease

New Zealand must address major underlying causes of respiratory disease - poverty and poor housing

Child Poverty Action Group says the high burden of respiratory disease in New Zealand provides further compelling evidence for the need to address underlying income and housing issues for the poorest.

A new report funded by The Asthma foundation, The impact of respiratory disease in New Zealand: 2014, released on Tuesday 5th May, shows New Zealand is failing to improve high levels of respiratory diseases like bronchiolitis, asthma, and bronchiectasis (chronic long term lung damage) , and in some cases levels are rising, despite a significant drop in smoking. Respiratory diseases are strongly linked with poverty and deprivation and have a disproportionate impact on Maori and Pacific people.

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CPAG health spokesperson Assoc. Professor Nikki Turner says, "To tackle the high burden of respiratory disease on New Zealand, we must address the underlying causes. We fully endorse the recommendations in the Asthma Foundation's report. New Zealand must ensure children and families have the resources they need to thrive including adequate family income, healthy housing and access to good primary healthcare, and it must urgently address the inequalities impacting so heavily, particularly on Maori and Pacific children."

Nikki Turner says, "It is alarming to read in the Asthma Foundation's report that childhood bronchiolitis rates increased by nearly a third between 2000 and 2013. The state of children's health shown by indicators like this are an obvious sign that New Zealand is not investing enough in childrens' early years. These children are tomorrow's citizens, we cannot afford to ignore their well-being."

Child Poverty Action Group has teamed up with ActionStation, NZCCSS, UNICEFNZ, members of the Equality network and Tick for Kids in a campaign to put child poverty on the agenda for the 2015 budget through an online petition calling on John Key's government to treat all low income children equally and, by doing so, boost the incomes of the poorest families.

CPAG says new and significant spending is required to fix flawed policies that act to exclude the poorest children.

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