A study from the University of Canturbery shows that increasing power prices are strongly linked to the number of hospital asthma admissions.
The study highlights that rising power costs majorly impacts upon the number of hospital asthma admissions for young children.
"Increasing electricity prices increase asthma admissions by reducing the level of home heating. Since asthma is such a prominent problem in developed countries, these findings may have important implications for public health policy," said PhD candidate PhD candidate, Rachel Webb.
Dust mites are a major trigger for asthma-sufferers and they thrived in cool and humid environments. Cold, damp housing is therefore a major issue for the health of our nation.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) data, recently released by Statistics New Zealand, shows that electricity prices have risen by 5.2% since March last year. This makes houses more expensive to heat.
Green Pary Co-leader, Metiria Turei, said that the Government needs to focus on home insulation and extend the Warm up New Zealand insulation scheme.
"Getting adequate insulation into kiwi homes isn't a 'nice to have'; it is a health priority."
The Ministry of Health recently released their report examining rheumatic fever prevention. Rheumatic fever is a largely preventable disease following a throat infection, which, if left untreated can lead to permanent heart damage. It has all-but vanished in most 'developed' countries but is a major concern in New Zealand.
Rheumatic fever is affected by a wide variety of environmental, social and economic factors. Cold, damp housing is a major cause of throat infections leading to rheumatic fever.
Rheumatic fever affects Maori and Pacific children disproportionately and is an indicator of poor healthcare access and socioeconomic deprivation. A study in 2008 showed that disease prevalence is higher in certain age groups (5 to 14 year olds), ethnicities (Maori and Pacific people) and geographical area (upper North Island). A study by Milne et al in 2012 showed that those children living in the poorest areas are 150 times more likely to be admitted to hospital for rheumatic fever by the age of 15.
"New Zealand has one of the highest asthma and rheumatic fever rates among developed countries. Home insulation can play a big part in reducing those rates," said Turei.
"The Warm up New Zealand: Heat Smart programme was negotiated by the Greens as part of our Memorandum of Understanding with National. It has been a success, insulating 200,000 kiwi homes to date. It has created $1.3billion of benefits, mainly in better child health but these reports show there is more to do.
"Improving conditions inside kiwi homes for the kids that need it most is a priority. Extending the scheme is a common sense way to reduce rates of rheumatic fever and asthma, Mrs Turei said.