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Media release - Significant gaps in asthma care in children needs addressing says Paediatric Society

Media Releases

On World Asthma Day (Tuesday 3 May) the Paediatric Society is calling for urgent action to address the ongoing significant gaps in asthma care in Aotearoa.

Research has repeatedly shown that Māori, Pacific peoples and those living in our most disadvantaged communities are more likely to have asthma, be hospitalised for asthma, and die from asthma, says Paediatric Respiratory Specialist Philip Pattemore.

“Asthma is one of the most common causes of hospital admissions for children and these have increased in recent years, at a time when asthma prevalence appears to have decreased. The challenge is to reduce these admissions using a community management approach. The NZ Child Asthma Guidelines offer a number of practical ways to manage the condition.”

Professor Pattemore says, “Asthma preventers are required for children with frequent attacks requiring prednisone or hospitalisation as well as those with regular day-to-day asthma symptoms. That is the first and most easily applied step.

“Other basic steps include ways to help remind children and parents to take the inhalers regularly using techniques like keeping their inhaler by their toothbrush, on their pillow, or using smartphone reminders. To get the best benefit of inhalers requires correct use, including shaking before each puff and using a spacer.”

“Ensuring every child with asthma has a working action plan so that parents and teachers know how to get help, is essential. Additionally, assistance to parents to quit smoking, to obtain warm, dry housing, and reduce aggravating factors like hay fever are also important,” he says.

“A significant issue is that children with asthma in the community commonly usually only attend primary care during acute attacks, and their primary care management may be based around those events, rather than at a regular review. This is difficult given all the other challenges for recall in family practice, and all the more so during COVID-19 conditions. Significant strategic thinking and planning needs to go into this side of asthma care in children.”

One of the ways the issue is being addressed by the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation is the recent appointment of the first dedicated Māori community liaison officer to engage with Māori healthcare providers across the country, so they can better understand the community needs and provide ‘respiratory resource bundles’ tailored to those needs.

“This appointment is a good step in the right direction but more is needed to reduce the numbers of children with asthma are admitted to hospital each year,” says Professor Pattemore.

Parents can find some useful information about managing their child’s asthma on https://www.kidshealth.org.nz/asthma

ENDS

For more on World Asthma Day, please go to https://www.worldasthmaday.org.nz/

Other activities planned for World Asthma Day include:

School Holidays Art Competition

Q & A with Foundation Medical Director Dr James Fingelton

For more information please contact Ally Clelland, Communications Manager, Paediatric Society of NZ on 022 044 2161 or email [email protected]

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