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Progress Being Made On New Zealand Health Strategy

Health Minister Annette King today tabled the first annual report outlining progress on the implementation of the New Zealand Health Strategy.

"My report notes the many plans and initiatives that are in place to improve the health of New Zealanders but also acknowledges that there are many areas for improvement."

The New Zealand Health Strategy has 61 population health objectives, and the report focuses on the progress made in implementing 13 of them. These are: smoking, nutrition, obesity, physical activity, suicide, alcohol and other drug use, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, oral health, interpersonal violence, severe mental illness, and child health care services.

The report, Implementing the New Zealand Health Strategy 2001, also looks at improved service priorities in public health, primary health care, waiting times for elective services in public hospitals, improved responsiveness of mental health services, and services for people in rural areas. Attention is also given to progress in reducing inequalities, particularly in relation to Maori and Pacific people, and those in lower socio-economic groups.

The release of toolkits providing practical advice for District Health Boards and others; the value of the nicotine replacement and Quitline programmes; and the growing level of support by GPs for the Green Prescription Scheme were among the developments highlighted.

Other achievements include the expansion of child and youth mental health services; the pilot programmes being run in Northland to develop and implement strategies to reduce alcohol-related harm in Maori communities; and the availability of free annual checks for people with diabetes.

Mrs King noted that concern remains about the high prevalence of tobacco use for Maori and for Pacific peoples, against an overall reduction in cigarette consumption; the need for comprehensive suicide prevention action across a range of government and community sectors and the increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes.

"Providing a high-quality health service always involves trade-offs between an unlimited demand for services and our limited resources.

"If we can focus on priority requirements we are more likely to make progress in the areas where we will see the most benefits. I have asked District Health Boards to focus on seven priorities in the New Zealand Health Strategy over the next 18 months."

These priorities are the implementation of the Maori Health Strategy, Primary Health Care Strategy, elective services policy, New Zealand Disability Strategy and the Mental Health Blueprint as well as addressing diabetes and reducing inequalities.

The report does not cover a full year because District Health Boards only got underway during the year. Some initiatives are included that have been under way for some time and are having an impact on the priority population health objectives. The report also provides a framework for reporting in 2002 and subsequent years.

Under the Public Health & Disability Act 2000, the Minister is required to table a report on the progress towards implementation of the New Zealand Health Strategy in the House by the end of each year.

A full copy of Implementing the New Zealand Health Strategy 2001 is available on the Ministry of Health’s website www.moh.govt.nz


Ends

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