Board John Knight

President's Report 2023

From the 2023 ARFNZ Annual Report

On behalf of the Trustees, it is my pleasure to again report on the activities of the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation over the past financial year ending 30 June 2023.

It has been a year marked by the effects of natural disasters, with the Foundation’s Chief Executive Letitia Harding and her team having to be adaptive and innovative to deliver vital education, advocacy and research to the respiratory community.

It’s the people that make an organisation, and the Foundation is very privileged to have a dedicated, passionate team led skilfully by Letitia. As a Board, we are incredibly pleased with Letitia’s professionalism, vision and commitment – in particular, her work in the vaping sector. Earlier this year, Letitia was named as the recipient of the 2023 President’s Award by the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) for her advocacy and education around the dangers of vaping. This was testament to Letitia’s powerful advocacy efforts and her undeniable passion for helping others. On behalf of the Board, I would like to sincerely thank Letitia and her team for their dedication and hard work.

This year, one key focus from the Board was to support the Foundation’s first Āpiha Takawaenga (Māori Community Liaison) Sharon Pihema, based in Tairāwhiti. Sharon has delivered numerous vaping education harm workshops to school students and provided (and developed) information and resources for students to take home. The role began in May 2022 and the Board quickly recognised the importance of Sharon’s work, making it a full-time permanent position in July. I’d like to thank Sharon for her outstanding work in helping the Foundation tackle the youth vaping crisis. The Board is now focused on creating more Āpiha Takawaenga roles to have educators from Kaitaia to Invercargill.

Research underpins all the work we do at the Foundation. Earlier this year, the Foundation undertook its first survey of New Zealanders with asthma. The key findings revealed that, of the 488 respondents, more than half were living with poorly controlled asthma and that many of these people were not receiving adequate care and support. The findings provide data for us to use in our advocacy in improving asthma care in New Zealand.

The Foundation continues to provide valuable leadership in best practice treatment of asthma and COPD through its guidelines. The team work to disseminate the guidelines widely throughout the respiratory health sector and has significantly increased the uptake of its Fundamentals eLearning course, an online training option for health professionals.

With no Government funding, we are dependent on grants, donations and support from the New Zealand community. The team strives to create reliable and regular funding to enable the core work of the Foundation to continue. It has been fantastic to see the growth in our corporate sponsorship programme, Friends of the Foundation, over the past three years. It is encouraging to find so many like-minded organisations willing to support our goals. We are also deeply grateful to the ongoing support from Pub Charity, New Zealand Lotteries Grants and the many individuals and groups throughout New Zealand who generously contribute to our work.

Over the last year, the Foundation has been very visible in the media talking on a range of important issues including inequities in respiratory health and youth vaping. The team have also continued to build a wide audience through the Foundation’s website, social media and our e-newsletter database, meaning our valuable resources and information are reaching more New Zealanders than ever.

The Foundation’s strategic goals are reviewed at the Board’s quarterly meetings with Letitia reporting against our goals, outcomes and deliverables. Annually, we review the strategic plan to ensure our goals align with the needs of the respiratory community. I would like to thank our Trustees for dedicating their time, and their wide range of skills to the Board.

We are also backed by New Zealand’s leading health experts through our Scientific Advisory Board. Their insights and knowledge are greatly valued.

Sir John Clarke, the Foundation’s Chief Cultural Advisor – Māori, contributes invaluable wisdom to the Board and team, helping us to have a deeper appreciation and understanding of Te Ao Māori. Finally, I want to offer my sincere thanks to our community of supporters, stakeholders and partners who share our vision for improved respiratory health outcomes for all New Zealanders. We will continue to strive towards this goal.

Ngā mihi,

John G. Knight