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Programme improves health of Pacific churchgoers


Auckland programme improves health of Pacific churchgoers

1st July 2008

With over eighty percent of Pacific peoples belonging to a church, the Healthy Village Action Zones (HVAZ) project is getting its message across from the pulpit.

Parish nurses go to church events where they talk to people about their health, provide screening programmes for those at risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and where necessary refer them to a GP. They also help with follow-up care, such as lifestyle programmes targetting fitness and diet.

The HVAZ programme has earned Auckland District Health Board a finalist’s place in the 2008 New Zealand Health Innovation Awards (HIA). It will compete against 19 other finalists, four of which are also from Auckland.

Pacific Health General Manager Aseta Redican says the programme is proving a great success. “It has taken two years to build the trust of the church groups and now we are working with about 10,000 churchgoers with another ten churches keen to join. People are really enthusiastic about the programme and we have anecdotal evidence that people are losing weight and getting healthy.”

The project works by joining up ten churches with a local Primary Health Organisation (PHO). The groupings are called "villages" and at present there are seven villages within the Auckland District Health Board containing 30 churches, supported by five PHOs. The aim is to create villages where members can be healthy and safe.

The first step in the project has been to establish relationships with the church groups by helping them to set up health committees. Over time, by working closely with the parish community nurses, the health committees come to better understand the needs of their parish.

The scheme will continue to expand, with additional programmes planned for the villages.

The HIA are a joint endeavour of the Ministry of Health and ACC. They were started in 2003 to recognise individuals and organisations that have developed new and innovative approaches to delivering better health services.

Further information about the HIA is available online at http://www.healthinnovationawards.co.nz.

This year’s HIA winners will be announced at the HIA expo and gala dinner held on 4 November at the Wellington Town Hall.

ENDS

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