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Published: 31 October 2003

Authors: Town, I., Taylor, R., Garrett, J., & Patterson, J.

The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ), together with the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand, commissioned this report to highlight the burden of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in New Zealand. The report was written by Professor Rod Jackson and Joanna Broad from the School of Population Health, University of Auckland. The report has been endorsed by the National Respiratory Council of New Zealand.

COPD is a serious condition and has a major impact on the health of people in this country. It contributes substantially to the enormous cost of tobacco smoking. 

The figures quoted in this report are of great concern. Health planners in New Zealand have under-estimated the likely increase in numbers of patients diagnosed with COPD. District Health Boards will need to make adjustments to their Annual District Health Plans to ensure that proper services are provided for these patients and their families. The Ministry of Health should consider taking the lead from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and make COPD one of its health priorities and encourage innovative approaches to management. This should include full access to new therapeutic agents such as tiotropium, portable oxygen, and equitable access to pulmonary rehabilitation programmes.

In partnership with all stakeholders in the National Respiratory Council of New Zealand, there needs to be greater emphasis and investment in ensuring that
young people do not take up tobacco smoking. Further, spirometry services should be adequately resourced in the primary health care setting to help diagnose COPD sufferers at an early stage when smoking cessation is likely to be of greatest help. Support services for those that wish to stop smoking and need to be fully implemented in all parts of New Zealand, by both mainstream and Maori and Pacific provider