Farewell to long time Canterbury Medical Officer of Health
Dr Melvin Brieseman retired yesterday from Canterbury District Health Board’s Community and Public health division after more than 30 years as a Canterbury Medical Officer of Health (MOH).
Dr Brieseman’s departure leaves Drs Alistair Humphrey and Ramon Pink with the responsibility of Medical Officer of Health for the Canterbury region. The pair have been working in the role for several years.
CDHB Chief Executive Gordon Davies said, “Mel’s wise and considered approach to public health issues stood him in good stead during his many years as MOH.”
“The role of Medical Officer of Health, despite many iterations in the last 30 years holds a tremendous amount of authority and responsibility. If there is a national or local health crisis, these are the people that we look to for guidance and direction.”
Aside from his public health role in Christchurch, Dr Brieseman also worked as a General Practitioner, surgeon and for ten years as a Chief Medical Officer in India.
Evon Currie, General Manager of C & PH said Dr Brieseman was highly regarded by his peers and his wise head would be greatly missed from the division.
Drs Pink and Humphrey say they will share the responsibility of Canterbury Medical Officer of Health between them.
Dr Pink, as a Māori Medical Officer of Health, follows in the esteemed footsteps of Maori Public Health physicians such as Maui Pomare and Sir Peter Buck and is historically one of very few Maori Medical Officers of Health. Dr. Pink is of Te Aupouri, Te Rarawa descent and worked for nine years as a GP in Otara before working at the Counties Manukau District Health Board on Maori health issues. He is passionate about improving Maori health as well as that of the wider community. “My work in General Practice grounded me and challenged me to consider how else I could support the improvement of Maori health. Public Health gives me that opportunity”, he says.
Dr Humphrey, whose previous employment included time with the Royal Flying Doctors Service and the International Diabetes Institute says travel through Africa in his youth convinced him that a population based approach to health provided far more benefit over all than individual medicine could achieve. However, Dr Humphrey values working “at the coal face of medicine” and continues to work a regular shift at the After Hours Surgery in Bealey Ave.
All Medical Officers of Health are public health physicians requiring about 12 years training. Their role is to promote and protect public health, with appointments made by the Director General of Health. The powers vested in them allow them to act quickly to manage public health emergencies and they have an important leading role in Civil Defence emergencies. On a day to day basis they are responsible for overseeing issues as diverse as liquor licensing, communicable diseases, and managing contaminated land.