Breathe Better September

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How do you breathe better? Isn’t that something that we do naturally every day? Most people can’t imagine not being able to breathe properly, but for the one in six Kiwis living with a respiratory condition, this is a reality.

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This month, the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ launches the first ever respiratory awareness m

onth in New Zealand. Breathe Better September is a national movement for Kiwis to show their support for better breathing and healthy lungs.

“More than 700,000 Kiwis have a respiratory condition, it’s the third leading cause of death and costs the country $5.5 billion each year,” says Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ chief executive, John Wills.
“But despite New Zealand having one of the highest rates of respiratory disease in the world, it is not highly profiled.”

Breathe Better September encourages Kiwis to start thinking about how they can improve their respiratory health, and information will be shared throughout the month to support this. The Foundation is also calling for people to sign a photo petition to show their support for better breathing.

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Foundation ambassador Erin Simpson says, “It’s so easy, grab a piece of paper and a pen, write Breathe Better September and send in a photo holding it up. Post it on your social media using the campaign name as the hashtag to help us raise awareness.”

Breathe Better September comes nearly a year after the launch of Te Hā Ora: National Respiratory Strategy. The strategy highlights a range of respiratory conditions that are prevalent in New Zealand, and the shocking statistics showing many conditions are on the rise. The strategy sets out clear steps that all new Zealanders need to take to reduce the impact of the disease.

Respiratory disease includes asthma, bronchiectasis, bronchiolitis, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer and obstructive sleep apnoea.


  • Respiratory disease is New Zealand’s third most common cause of death.
  • Respiratory disease costs New Zealand more than $5.5 billion every year.
  • One in six (more than 700,000) New Zealanders live with a respiratory condition, and these rates are worsening.
  • Respiratory disease accounts for one in eight of all hospital stays.
  • More than half of the people admitted to hospital with a poverty-related condition are there because of a respiratory problem such as asthma, bronchiolitis, acute infection or pneumonia.
  • People living in the most deprived households are admitted to hospital for respiratory illness over three times more often than people from the wealthiest areas.
  • Across all age groups, hospitalisation rates are much higher for Pacific peoples (2.6 times higher) and Maori (2.1 times higher) than for other ethnic groups (Telfar Barnard et al., 2015).
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