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Health Needs Assessment Update Released

30 July 2014

Health Needs Assessment Update Released

MidCentral District Health Board and Whanganui DHB populations have higher proportions of groups with higher health needs (Maori, social-economically disadvantaged people, and older people) compared to New Zealand, a health needs assessment of the regions has found.

Author of the annual health needs assessment report Dr Richard Fong, clinical advisor for health information and data quality at MDHB, said this influences the general health status of their (MDHB and WDHB) populations.

Dr Fong said improving the health status of MidCentral, and Whanganui populations depends on how well high needs populations are catered for.

The report update includes the recently released district health board-related 2013 Census data.

Key points from that Census data are:
• MidCentral’s population increased from the 2006 Census (158,841), to the 2013 Census population of 162,564 – an increase of 2.3 percent. New Zealand’s population increased by 5.3 percent for the same period.
• Whanganui’s population declined between the years – 2006 (62,208) to 60,120 in 2013 – a 3.4 percent decline.
• Both MDHB and WDHB have higher proportions of older people compared to New Zealand (16.5%, 18.2%, and 14.3% respectively). Older people generally have higher health needs than younger people.
• The age balances of MDHB, WDHB and New Zealand continue to age, with higher proportions of older people and smaller proportions of younger people.
• MDHB, and particularly WDHB, have higher proportions of Maori residents than New Zealand overall (17.4%, 23.5%, and 14.1% respectively).
• Regular cigarette smoking continues to decline for MidCentral, Whanganui and New Zealand. Whanganui regular smoking proportions were slightly higher than MidCentral’s, which in turn were slightly higher than New Zealand’s (18.1%, 15.4%, and 13.7% respectively). But all three experienced declines in regular smoking from 2006 to 2013.
• MidCentral and Whanganui have lower median household incomes compared to New Zealand. MidCentral’s median income in 2013 was $52,200, Whanganui’s $45,700, compared to New Zealand’s $63,800.

Dr Fong said soci0-economic disadvantage is associated with poorer health status. This implies both MidCentral, and especially Whanganui populations would have poorer health status than the New Zealand average.

The report examined Otago University’s NZDep2013 mapping of areas of socio-economic disadvantage, as they apply to MidCentral, Whanganui, and New Zealand overall. The NZDep2013 study rates small geographical areas from decile 1 (the least socio-economically disadvantaged) to decile 10 (the most disadvantaged).

He said MidCentral’s population shows greater socio-economic disadvantage than New Zealand. There are higher proportions of the population living in areas with NZDep 2013 decile ratings 7 to 10; and lower proportions living in decile 1 to 4 areas.

However, Whanganui’s population shows even greater social-economic disadvantages than MidCentral. There is almost a straight line gradation, with very low percentages in decile 1, and very high in decile 10. Almost one in five Whanganui residents live in a decile 10 area (over 18%).

Dr Fong’s report also provided an update on ‘amenable mortality’ – deaths from conditions amenable to preventative or health service intervention in people under 74 years old.

He said MidCentral, Whanganui and New Zealand amenable mortality rates all trended downwards from 2002 to 2010.

“MidCentral yearly rates are consistently higher than New Zealand rates. Whanganui yearly rates are consistently higher than both MidCentral and New Zealand. This pattern is consistent with the differences in socio-economic status among the three populations.”

Dr Fong said how successful MidCentral and Whanganui DHBs are in improving their populations’ health depends on how successful they are in catering for high needs population groups.


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