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Ministry of Health To Assume New Shape

MEDIA RELEASE, Embargoed, 4pm, March 21, 2000

Ministry of Health To Assume New Shape

THE new shape of the Ministry of Health reflects admirably the Government's vision for a health system focused on healthier New Zealanders, Minister of Health Annette King said today.

The new structure "bears testimony to a pleasing mix of pragmatism and creativity amongst all those who contributed to the final design," she said.

Director-General of Health Dr Karen Poutasi and Health Funding Authority interim chief executive Peter Hughes today briefed ministry and HFA staff on how the authority's functions would be integrated into the ministry when the HFA is disbanded later this year.

"Briefings I have had give me confidence the expanded ministry will be well-placed to fulfil its role. If we are to make a difference in health, and we will, we need a ministry capable of both leading the thinking and leading the sector. The ministry will be returning to this position of leadership," Mrs King said.

She said the new structure mirrored the Government's priorities. "I believe an expanded Maori health directorate will signal to Maori that we are absolutely committed to work which will reduce the disparities which show up time and time again in health statistics. This group will be able to maintain and enhance some of the exciting initiatives in Maori health we have started to see."

Mrs King also welcomed new directorates for disability and public health, and the intention to create a Pacific people's health unit. "People with disabilities have felt their needs were somehow secondary to those of people with illnesses. I believe the new directorate will help address such concerns. And if we really want to make a difference then obviously we need to look at keeping people well in the first place - hence the importance of public health."

Mrs King said she understood the final design reflected more than 90 staff submissions. "It gives me great confidence to know we have people at all levels of both the ministry and the HFA with the enthusiasm and interest to express their views on how best to take the health system forward."

For more information contact John Harvey (04) 471 9305.

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