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Hospital admissions for asthma too high - ministry

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

New Ministry of Health provisional figures reveal that asthma hospitalisations, especially among New Zealand children, are still too high.

While the estimated figures show that asthma admissions* among 2-15 year olds have slightly decreased from 3,174 in 2009/2010 to 2,917 in 2010/11, this is not good enough and we've got a long way to go. The sad thing is that 79% of these admissions are for children 2- 4 years old.

That's 2,300 toddlers in hospital because they can't breathe.

This does not include short stay Emergency Department visits which add at least another 1,000 visits for those under 15.

Total asthma admissions for all ages (not including short stay Emergency Department visits) for the total population have also decreased slightly from 6,967 in 2009/10 to 6,407 in 2010/11.

Angela Francis, Chief Executive of he Asthma Foundation says "While we are heartened by a decrease in asthma admissions, over 6,000 hospital admissions per year is still too high. New Zealanders, like other people across the world, need to take a more preventive approach in their attitude to asthma".

"At the Asthma Foundation we are focusing on prevention. We are lobbying government to reduce the social determinants of health including tackling overcrowding and cold, damp homes which are known to cause respiratory illness and admissions to hospital. We also network with all

organisations to support and inform government's commitment to making Aotearoa New Zealand Smokefree by 2025. For example, through our work as part of the Smokefree Coalition, we've seen some recent results with the announcements about making New Zealand Smokefree

by 2025 and banning cigarette displays."

"We're also stepping up our efforts to urge people to manage their asthma through, for example, reducing their exposure to asthma triggers such as dust mites and sudden changes in temperature.

To support our focus on prevention we will continue to fund research into treatments and educating on best practice.

Teresa Demetriou, National Education Services Manager for the Foundation, encourages parents and caregivers of children with asthma to make sure that their child has a child asthma plan (completed with a health professional/GP), to have their children immunised against influenza

each year and to use their preventer medications as prescribed rather than just relying on their relievers when their asthma gets bad.

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