5.6% of 30-60yo Kiwis have OSA

Last updated on April 28th, 2023 at 04:21 pm

Jane Phare of the New Zealand Herald reported this weekend how a hidden epidemic is costing the country billions of dollars. The sleep deprivation epidemic is costing the economy in lost productivity even though treatment is relatively cheap.

Like we often found here on the CPAP blog, NZ researchers also link sleep deprivation with a variety of health problems including diabetes, obesity, heart failure, strokes, hypertension and some cancers. The story also mentions troubled sleep as a leading cause of car crashes.

In New Zealand, there is no public funding available for those  with sleep problems. An estimated 5.6% of 30 to 60-year-olds (close to 100,000 people) suffer from OSA. Leading sleep experts believe it costs just $94 (£36) to increase the quality of life for a year for sleep apnoea sufferers. Compared to the $6865 (£2,633) the NZ governing pharmaceutical body spends to achieve the same single-year improvement, modern sleep therapy is in fact very cheap. Despite the relative low cost of treatment and the massive benefits to the economy (fewer car crashes, fewer sick days, increased productivity) the NZ government is refusing to put money aside for sleep therapy.

Neighbouring Australia estimate that sleep disorders affect 6 per cent of the entire population, costing the country just short of £4 billion a year.

Comparing New Zealand with population-wise similarly sized Toronto, we find just 20 clinical beds for diagnosing and treating sleep disorders in New Zealand and 200 of those in Toronto. (There are just 170 such beds in the entire UK – see this post.) Despite the real need, these 20 beds aren’t used to capacity due to lack of funding.