A New Zealand respiratory expert will be opening up to all questions asthma related in an online Q&A this World Asthma Day on May 5.

World Asthma Day is an annual awareness campaign hosted by Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ (ARFNZ) to educate Kiwis about one of New Zealand’s most prevalent respiratory diseases. This year, ARFNZ will host an online Q&A with respiratory physician Dr James Fingleton to discuss and answer asthma related questions from the New Zealand respiratory community.

Dr Fingleton is a respiratory physician and ARFNZ Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) member alongside several other highly esteemed respiratory physicians, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and public health experts, and says that now more than ever we need to keep on top of our respiratory health.

"During this pandemic, it’s important to remember that COVID-19 can affect asthmatics differently in comparison to those with healthy lungs," says James. "While no more likely to contract the virus, people with chronic respiratory illness are more at risk of serious complications from the virus, as it directly affects their already comprised respiratory system.

"World Asthma Day is a fantastic opportunity to share and promote awareness, and encourage self-management of asthma. However, our current lockdown circumstances can make traditional outreach challenging, so I’m very happy to provide the time to help our community."

This year the campaign’s focus is on the mantra of "Six Breaths Saves Lives" referring to the steps to remember for an asthma emergency.

"An asthma emergency can happen at any time, so it’s important to know the steps of asthma first aid and be quick to act," James says.

"The basic first aid is to take your reliever as normal and repeat as needed. If this isn't enough, six puffs of a blue reliever, with six deep breaths per puff, repeating every six minutes until help arrives or regular breathing resumes," says James. "Knowing this information could save a life down the line, so we want every New Zealander to become an asthma expert."

"Even during pandemics, everyday problems don’t disappear," says Letitia Harding, ARFNZ Chief Executive. "1 in 7 Kiwi children have asthma, as well as 1 in 8 adults. Asthma also has a large prevalence within our schools and communities, especially among Māori and Pacific populations.

"The Foundation strives to provide resources and education across all areas of the community, such as providing free asthma spacers to asthma societies across New Zealand, developing the soon-to-be updated National Asthma Guidelines, and asthma management plans, all despite receiving no government funding. When we went into lockdown, the Foundation received thousands of asthma related enquiries, and we worked tirelessly with our SAB to answer those questions, resulting in a dedicated COVID-19 page on our website."

Dr Fingleton’s Q&A will be part of a series of Facebook Live stream events on Tuesday, May 5, with the line-up including:

11am - Sailor the Puffer Fish Asthma Musical with Chris Lam Sam

1pm - Crafting with Kikorangi the Asthma Fairy

4pm - Q&A session with Asthma Expert Dr James Fingleton