New research project will investigate how Pacific children with asthma manage their condition; NZ rates among highest in world

Massey University is launching a three year programme to investigate asthma in Pacific children.

The University has received $971,541 from the Health Research Council of New Zealand to look into how Pacific children manage their asthma

One in nine adults and one in seven children in New Zealand have asthma, one of the highest rates in the world.

It is a disproportionately high among Pacific people and Māori.

According to the Health Quality and Safety Commission, Pacific and Māori children were more likely to be admitted to hospital with asthma than other groups.

Pacific children had the highest admission rate.

Pacific and Māori were three times more likely to be admitted into hospital with asthma than other adults.

Principal investigator Dr Sunia Foliaki from Massey’s Centre for Public Health Research said the study would assess the availability and use of asthma self-management plans.

“Despite the availability of established and effective asthma self-management plans, asthma outcomes and control continue to be poor among Pacific populations in New Zealand,” Dr Foliaki said.

“Pacific people are three times more likely to be hospitalised with asthma than Europeans or other New Zealanders”

She this could be because of poor levels of knowledge about how to manage asthma in its early stages and how to obtain the right  medication.

The study findings would help develop ways to help Pacific people manage their asthma better.

About asthma

According to the Ministry of health, asthma is twice as common in boys as in girls.

Triggers for asthma can include tobacco smoke, wood smoke, house mould, perfumes, paint, chemicals and gases from heaters.

Sufferers can also be allergic to dust mites and pollen.

Asthma episodes can occur quickly and vary in severity and range from mild discomfort to life-threatening episodes where breathing may stop.

Symptoms may include  persistent coughing, particularly at night and after exercise,  breathlessness, wheezing and tightness in the chest.

Symptoms are often worse when it is cold or at night.

Treatment is normally with inhalers.

The main points

  • Massey University is launching a three year programme to investigate asthma in Pacific children.
  • One in nine adults and one in seven children in New Zealand have asthma and it disproportionately high among Pacific people and Māori.

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