By Sophie Whitney -
The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for all of us, but for those living with asthma and respiratory disease, it’s a very real and frightening risk to their health. With pressure to reduce the burden on hospitals so they can manage COVID-19 patients, keeping asthma and respiratory patients safe is paramount.
Asthma and respiratory diseases are two of the leading causes of sickness and death in Aotearoa. New Zealand has one of the worst rates of asthma in the developed world. Respiratory disease includes asthma, bronchiectasis, childhood bronchiolitis, childhood pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The Good Registry is pleased to welcome the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation (ARFNZ) as a new charity partner. Established in 1964, the Foundation is a national health authority dedicated to providing education, raising awareness, and developing research relating to asthma and respiratory disease. The team at ARFNZ are focused on creating and disseminating best practice guidelines for health professionals to ensure they’re operating off the best possible research and getting practical resources out to the community.
Improving clinical best practice
For people living with asthma or respiratory disease, it impacts their life every day. Imagine having to carry an inhaler everywhere you go, not knowing when an asthma attack will hit, or having to take regular medication, like the 610,000+ Kiwis who take asthma medication.
The New Zealand Adolescent and Adult Asthma Guidelines were published on 26 June 2020. These guidelines were developed by the Foundation alongside a multidisciplinary group of respiratory health experts. The revised guidelines are based on recent advances in clinical knowledge, and they address today’s challenges of managing asthma - patient education, follow-up, compliance, self-management, and adherence.
Reducing inequities and avoidable hospitalisations
In 2019, respiratory disease accounted for one in ten overnight hospital stays. Hospitalisation rates are highest for children aged under 15 years and adults aged over 65 years. There are also higher rates for Pacific peoples (2.6 times higher than non-MPA) and Māori (2.2 times higher than non-MPA). A recent study reveals Māori children are twice as likely to be hospitalised with asthma than non-Māori.
The latest Respiratory Impact Report shows unacceptably high inequalities for Māori and Pacific people. ARFNZ has a strong focus on reducing health inequities and reaching vulnerable communities, and aims to reduce the high numbers of avoidable hospitalisations and deaths in Māori and Pacific people. One example of this is that seven of the most-utilised ARFNZ resources have been translated into te reo Māori. Resources including how to manage children’s asthma, asthma action plans and first aid posters provide access to vital healthcare information and tools for te reo speaking households, schools and healthcare providers. The Foundation has also translated many asthma resources into Samoan and will be releasing some in Tongan this year.
ARFNZ has a goal to reduce hospital admissions caused by asthma and other respiratory diseases by 25%, by 2025. They train hundreds of health professionals every year to provide patients with the education needed to prevent unnecessary hospitalistions. In order to achieve this goal, they need our help to get the latest research and best practices out to the community.
With no ongoing government funding, ARFNZ is heavily dependent on donations, grants and sponsorships. Sadly, this has been impacted in the past 18 months with people facing uncertainty around jobs and money.
Your contributions through The Good Registry will help ARFNZ to continue to provide critical research, education and advocacy for the 700,000 Kiwis living with a respiratory condition.
Educating and entertaining our tamariki
With these health conditions affecting one in seven children in New Zealand, education in schools is a key focus. One of the initiatives ARFNZ has been working on recently is a digital classroom for asthma education. They’ve traditionally offered a live show for primary schools, teaching children about asthma triggers and symptoms and what to do in an asthma emergency. In 2019, the Foundation launched a te reo Māori version of the show and 2,563 tamariki and kaiako have now been educated through this platform.
With recent lockdowns and students learning from home, the digital classroom is open for students to participate in interactive online modules and each class gets a certificate at the end of the course. The digital offering makes it easier to reach rural schools and isolated parts of the country - often where education is needed most.
ARFNZ needs your help to continue their vital work to improve the health outcomes for Kiwis affected by respiratory disease. If you’d like to donate to The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation through The Good Registry you can:
- Create your own Good Registry and encourage others to donate to ARFNZ instead of giving you physical gifts for a birthday or special event.
- Give The Good Registry’s gift cards instead of traditional gifts to give your friends the opportunity to reduce waste and help good causes. They can donate to ARFNZ or any of The Good Registry's 65 partners.