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Lifestyle The Problem, Not Race

Lifestyle The Problem, Not Race

Thursday 10 Jul 2003
Heather Roy
Press Releases -- Health

Appalling new figures on Maori and Pacific life expectancy should come as no surprise - but blaming a 1980s government for terrible health figures in the 1990's, and hypothesising that this is the cause of the ills of the 21^st century health system, is short-sighted and wrong," ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy said today.

"The killers contributing to today's figures are cancers, heart disease and obesity. These are problems for all New Zealanders - not just Maori and Pacific peoples. Rates may be down for pakeha, but they are still the most common causes of death," Mrs Roy.

"The answer to `closing the gaps' is not to separate races, but to target the big killers and tackle them, disease by disease, for the benefit of all. New Zealanders must have health services based on need. Isolating Maori from the scientific western medicine traditions puts their health gravely at risk.

"The Health Ministry continues to ignore the real problems, and constantly pushes its Primary Health strategy as the magic cure. The frequently announced $400 million for primary care has been trumpeted so often that people think the health system is awash with cash. What Health Minister Annette King doesn't say is that $120 million of that is earmarked for catch-up - an admission that she underfunded her Soviet-style health system in 2000/01.

"The epidemic of obesity and related diseases, such as diabetes, is the product of a sedentary lifestyle. New Zealanders are becoming less active, and treatment is cheap - eat better and exercise more. How much does it cost to walk around the block? Isn't this cheaper than watching TV, while eating a $5 block of chocolate or smoking a $10 packet of cigarettes?

"While the Government takes charge of the health of its people, and absolves them of any responsibility, these diseases will become a greater problem," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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