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New Zealand Health Strategy First for Decade

Thursday June 1

New Zealand Health Strategy First for Decade

Health Minister Annette King today released the draft New Zealand Health Strategy, describing it as the "first really strategic" approach for a decade to developing an outstanding public health system.

Mrs King released the discussion document to health professionals and providers and community groups in Porirua, and said the document would also be presented at another 37 public meetings, hui and fono throughout the country. The document is open to public submissions until July 28.

"A nationwide health strategy for New Zealand has never been needed more than today. There have been improvements in the health status of New Zealanders, but we are slipping behind other developed countries, particularly in our Maori and Pacific communities. The unacceptable reality is that some people live in unhealthy housing, have poor nutrition and, in rural areas, have limited access to clean water and sewerage systems," Mrs King said.

"Despite the commitment of people working in the health sector, some New Zealanders have lost trust in a health system that has been dominated by a commercial focus in recent years. They are no longer confident they will be cared for when they are ill, or will have adequate support if they have a disability. These are the issues this strategy sets out to address."

Mrs King said the NZHS provided a national framework for the new public health service. "It is an overarching document. Other health strategies, in mental health, child health and primary care, for example, will fall under the umbrella of the NZHS. So will contributions from the health sector to inter-sectoral strategies on issues like road safety, environmental health, bio-security, poverty, housing and youth suicide."

The NZHS focussed on fundamental principles for the health sector, goals and objectives, service priorities and implementation issues, she said. "There is no mention of the market model in this document. That's something of the past. The future is about healthy New Zealanders, not about bank balances.

"Of course, elective surgery costs money. So do good primary health care and good staff. And of course the money must be spent wisely. But it can be spent far more wisely and judiciously with an integrated approach across the whole health sector and the whole population, if we know where our health system is going long term, and what we want it to achieve."

Mrs King said the strategy listed seven fundamental principles for a healthy New Zealand, 12 objectives for immediate action, and six priority areas for delivering high-quality health services. A second stage of the NZHS would reflect the more established nature of district health boards as they developed close community and intersectoral links.

"People will see a strong emphasis in the document on improving the health of Maori and Pacific people, and on the special relationship between tangata whenua and the Crown under the Treaty of Waitangi. Sadly, some of the greatest disparities in health occur in Maori and Pacific communities. They must be addressed for the sake of a healthy New Zealand in the wider sense.

"The new public health system in New Zealand must be co-ordinated, holistic and robust. It must make effective use of our limited resources. The New Zealand Health Strategy will lead the way for many, many years to come."


The development of the New Zealand Health Strategy was guided by a Sector Reference Group chaired by Ministry of Health director-general Dr Karen Poutasi. Other members of the group were:
Ms Lynette Stewart, Te Tai Tokerau MAPO
Ms Jane Holden, Royal Foundation for the Blind
Ms Claire Austin, Age Concern
Dr Colin Tukuitonga, Maori and Pacific Health Unit, Auckland University
Dr Barbara Disley, Mental Health Foundation
Mrs Brenda Wilson, New Zealand Nurses' Organisation
Ms Karen Guilliland, College of Midwives
Dr John Broughton, Dept, Preventive and Social Medicine, Otago University
Dr Debbie Ryan, South Seas Health Care, Otara
Dr Upali Manukulasuriya, General Practitioner, Taumarunui
Ms Judith Stanway/Ms Alison Paterson, Crown Health Association
Dr Pippa MacKay, New Zealand Medical Association
Prof. Mason Durie, School of Maori Studies, Massey University
Stuart Bruce, Health Adviser, Office of the Minister of Health
Dr David Bawden, Tikipunga Medical Centre, Whangarei
Ms Cheryl Hamilton, Health Promotion Forum
Ms Pauline Hinds, Mental Health Services, Lakeland Health
Ms Sandra Coney, Women's Health Action
Dr Jeff Brown, Paediatrics Dept, Palmerston North Hospital (ASMS)
Dr Don Matheson, Health Funding Authority.

An Expert Advisory Group, chaired by Dr Don Matheson, advisied on specific health goals and objectives. Other members of the group were:
Assoc. Prof Charlotte Paul, Dept Preventive and Social Medicine, Otago University
Prof Norman Sharpe, School of Medicine, Auckland University
Dr Barry Gribben, Dept of General Practice and Primary Health Care, Auckland University
Dr Chris Cunningham, School of Maori Studies, Massey University
Ms Ratana Walker, Health Funding Authority
Dr Toni Ashton, Dept of Community Health, Auckland University


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