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Primary care focus for Health Ministers' Forum

Primary care focus for International Health Ministers' Forum

Primary Health Care is top of the agenda at a forum for health ministers New Zealand is hosting this week.

Health Ministers and officials from seven countries, New Zealand, Sweden, Brazil, Canada, Chile, United Kingdom and Slovenia are in Wellington to attend the Third International Forum on Common Access to Health Care.

Sweden and New Zealand established the forum as a network of like-minded countries interested in the challenge of providing universal or common access to affordable health care.

"Primary care is the basis of a patient-centred health care system. It is the gateway to most other health services and it is the level of health care used most often by most people. As such it is key to equitable and affordable access to health care," the Ministers said in a programme statement issued at the end of today's meeting.

"Our meeting provided a valuable opportunity to discuss innovative approaches and solutions to areas of shared concern about access to primary care."

There is renewed interest internationally in primary health care, driven by the increase in chronic diseases or conditions in developed countries. "It is also driven by the proven effectiveness of primary care in delivering affordable, effective health care", the Ministers said in the programme statement.

The Ministers' discussions at Premier House today covered primary health's role in ensuring access, barriers to access, workforce issues, funding, access for indigenous people and approaches to access by illness. Several New Zealand Primary Health Organisation initiatives were featured in practical discussions during the meeting.

Ministers and officials will visit Primary Health Organisation sites in Porirua and Wellington tomorrow. They will see retinal screening and diabetes management services in action and visit marae-based health providers in Maori and Pacific Island community settings.

The first two meetings of the Forum were held last year in Stockholm (January) and London (May). For more information see the forum's website at

Details of participants and the programme statement issued at the end of the meeting follow.

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