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New programme aims to improve respiratory outcomes for tamariki

Media Releases


Media release

21 September 2021

New programme aims to improve respiratory outcomes for tamariki

A new programme called ‘Koira 4 Rukahukahu’ or ‘Lungs 4 Life’ has recently been launched by the Northern Regional Alliance encompassing the three Auckland Metro DHBs and Northland DHB in partnership with the Bronchiectasis Foundation.

“The programme aims to reduce inequity in respiratory health outcomes for tamariki across the Northern region,” says Auckland Paediatric Respiratory Specialist Associate Professor Cass Byrnes.

“Māori and Pasifika tamariki are disproportionately affected by respiratory infections, are often diagnosed with chronic lung disease later and with more severe disease in comparison with other international indigenous groups.”

“Tamariki under two years of age admitted to hospital with a respiratory infection are eligible for the Lungs 4 Life programme if they have had three admissions for lower respiratory tract infections or if the clinician leading their care are concerned about their risk of developing ongoing respiratory disease.”

Dr Byrnes says, the three key messages of the programme are:

“Cough free, the way to be”

“Be wise, immunise”

“I am a Lungs 4 Life kid”

Bronchiectasis Foundation Chairperson Camron Muriwai says, ”This programme enables us to all work together to ensure better outcomes for tamariki.

“The new model of care moves away from purely hospital-based follow-up to take care into the community with a multi-disciplinary team led by specialist children’s community nurses, with clinician, speech language therapy, and physiotherapy support. It is designed to take the burden of trying to seek future additional healthcare away from the whānau as it will automatically be provided.

“On discharge tamariki are referred to specialist children’s community nursing teams for a home visit in 30 days’ time. Further reviews are held at three months, one year, and two years following discharge, and at five years of age. If the child is found to be unwell at any point, appropriate intervention will be started and support continued until the child is symptom free. The programme is designed to be flexible and whanau-led with any other health concerns they may have addressed such as ear, skin, or dental disease with additional referrals as needed. There is also the ability to assess other children in the household that parents are concerned about.”

Dr Byrnes says, “New Zealand has a poor track record in child respiratory health, particularly in Māori and Pasifika tamariki. We want to reverse the normalisation of poor respiratory health and improve recognition of chronic cough. We collectively decided we needed a new better fit for purpose model of care for our communities.

“This is Asthma and Respiratory month, and while we want to highlight the ‘Koira 4 Rukahukahu’ Lungs 4 Life programme we also want to raise awareness across the country for all parents to be aware of children with chronic cough. Any tamariki with a cough that continues over a few weeks needs medical attention.”


For further information or interviews please contact Ally Clelland, Communications Manager, Paediatric Society NZ, 022 044 2161.

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