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We’d like to give a big warm welcome to the very accomplished Letitia O’Dwyer, who has officially joined the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation as our new Chief Executive.  

O’Dwyer's most previous role was Chief Executive at the New Zealand Organisation for Rare Disorders (NZORD) an organisation, which under her leadership raised its national awareness, professionalism and support group engagement. 

Chairman of the Foundation John Knight says, 

Letitia has over 20 years experience in the health sector and we are incredibly excited to have her on board.

“During the past years the Foundation has launched a number of key projects, including the Māori Engagement Strategy and Te Hā Ora: National Respiratory Strategy. Letitia will oversee these projects being taken to the next level,” says Knight. 

On World Asthma Day (2 May) it was highlighted by the Foundation that urgent action needs to be taken to reduce the rates amongst Māori children (1 in 5 have asthma), who have significantly higher hospitalisation rates and prevalence than the rest of the population. 

O’Dwyer says, 

We do not see it as Ministry of Health, DHB or even a PHO stand-alone health target. We intend to change that.

“We will be implementing a project alongside a Māori healthcare provider, to deliver workforce training and development around respiratory health. Our aim is to reduce the disproportionate hospitalisation rates for Māori,” says O’Dwyer. 

Additionally, O’Dwyer endorses Te Hā Ora: National Respiratory Strategy – a call to action for urgent recommendations to reduce the incidence and impact of respiratory disease.

“With one in six New Zealanders living with a respiratory condition, and an annual cost of over $6 billion per year, respiratory disease needs to be made a New Zealand health priority,” says O’Dwyer. 

ENDS

Letitia has over 20 years extensive experience in the health sector which includes the introduction of new health technologies, improving access to medicines, initiating imaging and diagnostic trials and establishing international healthcare networks. She holds a Bachelor of Science, a Post Graduate Diploma in Business and a Masters in Health Management all from the University of Auckland, School of Population Health. She has sat on a number of international and national advisory boards and most recently was an invited speaker to the World Orphan Drug Congress in Washington DC. She has held senior management positions in both the corporate diagnostic and pharmaceutical industry, and collaborated with many NGO's over the years. 

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