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Arthritis report finds significant impact on Māori

8.30am, 5 September 2018

Tomorrow a major report on the Economic Cost of Arthritis in New Zealand*, will be launched by Kaiponapona Aotearoa, Arthritis New Zealand - a report that has major implications for Māori health.

The report shows that gout arthritis is the second most common form of arthritis in New Zealand and it is more prevalent in Māori communities. Over 45,000 or 13% of Māori men have gout arthritis, and it is much more common in the young Māori population than the young non-Māori population.

Contrary to popular myth, gout arthritis is not caused directly by food and drink. Due to a genetic pre-disposition to develop gout arthritis it can occur in otherwise healthy and active young Māori men. It is caused by the build-up of uric acid in the body and causes debilitating pain. It is also linked to the development of diabetes and heart disease. Gout arthritis also contributes to loss of well-being and economic productivity and can have significant flow on effects for whānau.

Left untreated gout arthritis is a ticking time-bomb that could cause long term degeneration of the joints, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Gout arthritis can usually be treated well with medication, but the medication needs to be taken all the time, even when the pain has subsided.

Consumer and whānau centric education for Māori is essential to ensure equitable access to health care and the report notes that the incidence of gout arthritis in Māori has implications for how services for Māori are planned and delivered. Arthritis New Zealand has taken this on board.

Announcing an audacious goal of reducing the numbers of Māori men affected adversely by gout arthritis, Arthritis New Zealand CEO Philip Kearney will outline a proposal to increase the numbers of men on a managed gout programme.

Currently only 45% of those diagnosed with gout arthritis are in a managed gout programme and Arthritis New Zealand aims to increase that percentage to 90% over the next 20 years. This increase will see savings in the health and well-being costs of gout arthritis achieving over $1billion in savings over 5years.

“Arthritis New Zealand wants to actively develop a model of service delivery with Māori that works for Māori and addresses the need for effective community education and engagement to promote good management of gout arthritis” said Mr Kearney. “We helped develop such a model in Northland working with Manaia and Te Tai Tokerau PHOs and Northland DHB to build co-operation between Community, GPs, pharmacists, nurses and educators. Arthritis New Zealand is keen to work with others to roll out this model to other regions where gout arthritis is most common including Tairāwhiti, Counties-Manukau, Hawkes Bay, Whānganui and Bay of Plenty.

“We believe that the development of a wrap-around education service for people with gout arthritis and their whānau must include education, support, and access to medication to dramatically reduce the toll of gout arthritis on Māori,” said Mr Kearney. “This report is a game-changer,” he concluded.

Other key points in the report to be released tomorrow include

• 680,000 have arthritis in New Zealand. (2018 projection by Access Economics)

• 180,000 of these have gout arthritis

• The overall cost of arthritis in New Zealand is $12.2 billion a year.

• The most prevalent forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis, gout arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis

• By 2040 one million kiwis will have arthritis

• A national model of care for arthritis needs to be developed


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