Wellbeing Budget Could Be a Breath of Fresh Air

The Wellbeing budget could be a turning point for community health NGOs, says Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ CE Letitia O’Dwyer.   

ARFNZ has provided resources, education, and support for the 700,000 New Zealanders living with respiratory conditions for over 50 years; however, the Foundation and others like it have historically been funded solely through donations, supporters, and other funding operators.   

“Respiratory disease continues to impact heavily on New Zealanders. With over 700,000 people affected in New Zealand, and causing 1 in 10 hospital stays, we need to increase our services to address this,” says O’Dwyer. “The Wellbeing Budget should help New Zealanders live well and stay well, and key to that should be aiding our critical work to safeguard Kiwis’ respiratory health.”   

Asthma is one of the most common respiratory conditions in New Zealand, and is especially prevalent among children; one in seven children take medication for asthma, with over half a million school days lost due to asthma related complications every year.   

ARFNZ produce a range of educational resources and programmes for parents, teachers, and students used by thousands of New Zealanders. These resources are also recognised and utilised by both the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health, including the National Adult, Child, and Adolescent Asthma Guidelines, the National Asthma Teachers’ toolkit, Te Reo Māori resources, and the ‘My Asthma’ health literacy and asthma management app.   

ARFNZ has also worked closely with the Ministry of Education, providing intensive support and guidance in forming the Ministry’s Inclusive Education website TKI (Te Kete Ipurangi), which includes many of the Foundation’s resources such as policy templates, checklists, emergency information, lesson plans, and useful links.

“Government continually tells us how important our work is, how relevant it is, and what amazing resources we produce, yet we receive no Government funding. We understand budgetary constraints, but with respiratory illness being the third leading cause of death in New Zealand, and our resources and services in demand like never before, we really do need consideration from Government in this budget,” says O’Dwyer.   

The Foundation continues to provide much-needed resources at the forefront of respiratory health research, national guidelines, and other respiratory health community initiatives required to support the large number of those living with a respiratory disease in New Zealand.    

“The ARFNZ Board, Scientific Advisory Board and team will continue to work to achieve our target of reducing emergency visits for acute respiratory illnesses by 20% in 5 years,” says O’Dwyer. “We hope that this Government recognises the importance of our activities, and finally provides some financial support for our work in this Budget.”