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Swiss Health Minister Visits New Zealand

October 11, 2006

Swiss Health Minister Visits New Zealand

New Zealand's battle against obesity and emphasis on primary care are attracting international interest.

The Swiss Health Minister, His Excellency Monsieur Pascal Couchepin, is visiting New Zealand this week to meet our Health Minister, officials and visit health providers in South Auckland and Rotorua.

This is the first visit to New Zealand by a member of the Swiss Government since 1988, said Ministry of Health Manager, International Wendy Edgar.

"Monsieur Couchepin is very interested in why we are giving more emphasis to primary health care, how we provide health services within the funding we have available and how we maximise health gain and reduce disparities."

The Minister is in New Zealand from October 11-14. He will meet Health Minister Hon Pete Hodgson and senior health officials in Wellington before heading to Rotorua on October 13. In Rotorua, he will visit a local Maori health provider, Korowai Aroha, and meet Lakes District Health Board members. Monsieur Couchepin heads to Manukau, South Auckland on Saturday and will tour the facilities at Manukau SuperClinic and the Burns Unit at Middlemore Hospital.

The visit is a significant step in furthering the warm relations between Switzerland and New Zealand, following the June 2006 visit to Switzerland by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon Winston Peters. The Minister is a guest of Government during his visit.

Monsieur Couchepin is also a Member of the Federal Council of Switzerland and Interior Minister, responsible for health, education, technology, research, statistics, meteorology, culture, gender equality and the National Library.

ENDS

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