More Rotorua people are going to hospital for respiratory issues and almost half of all admissions are Maori.

Respiratory disease has increased nationwide despite modern treatment and better understanding of the problem, according to the Asthma Foundation's National Respiratory Strategy.

Respiratory disease refers to conditions which impair the airways and lungs including asthma, bronchiectasis, bronchiolitis, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer and obstructive sleep apnoea.

Lakes District Health Board figures show people went to hospital for respiratory illness 2397 times in the last financial year, up on 2104 the previous year and 2126 in the 2012-2013 financial year.

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Maori were just under half of all admissions last year and children under 15 were just under a third of admissions.

Lakes DHB chief executive Ron Dunham said the DHB provided a Respiratory Specialist Nursing service for adult patients with chronic respiratory disease.

The specialist nurses reviewed patients during their admissions to assess and review their self-care plans.

The nurses also followed up with the patients in the community, he said.

There were also respiratory group classes several times a year, which included physiotherapy, life coach and specialist nurses.

Mr Dunham said the children's service also provided follow-up care for children with chronic respiratory conditions.

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The DHB was developing a care pathway for infants discharged from the Special Care Baby Unit who were likely to have an admission during their first year of life, he said.

The Asthma Foundation's report said children, people on low incomes and Maori and Pacific people experienced a much greater burden of respiratory ill health than other New Zealanders.

Emeritus Professor Sir Mason Durie of Massey University said respiratory diseases not only reflected the health status of individuals but were also a comment on the environments where they lived, worked, and played.

He said poverty was a breeding ground for respiratory diseases.

Ongoing exposure to toxic air, poorly heated homes or streets clouded by diesel and petrol fumes greatly increase the risks of respiratory disease.

Addressing the problem required highly skilled medical interventions, ready access to services, early intervention, close links between the various components of the health sector and high levels of health literacy, he said.

The National Respiratory Strategy was a call to action to reduce the incidence, and impact of respiratory disease and eliminate inequalities in respiratory health, according to the report.