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King praises health sector’s commitment

9 December 2004

King praises health sector’s commitment

The health sector’s commitment to progress right across the health and disability sector shines through in the fourth report on implementing the New Zealand Health Strategy, says Health Minister Annette King. Implementing the New Zealand Health Strategy 2004 is a summary of actions undertaken this year across the health sector to implement the Strategy.

Ms King says a special focus of the report is on local activities of District Health Boards and Primary Health Organisations, with the wide range of PHO activities and initiatives documented in case studies in this year’s report illustrating the crucial role of these organisations in improving health and reducing inequalities.

"Although the first two PHOs only came into being in July 2002, we now have 77 providing improved primary health care to more than 3.7 million New Zealanders, with some two million people, including over-65s and under-18s, already entitled to cheaper doctors’ visits and lower prescription costs on most items.

By July 2007, all New Zealanders belonging to PHOs, and that will be almost all of us, will be entitled to lower-cost care." Ms King says that since the strategy’s launch in 2000 the Government has committed unprecedented funding to primary health care, with a cumulative $1.7 billion in new money being invested over six years from 2002/03.

“Accessible primary health care plays a vital role in effective chronic disease prevention and management. An excellent example is diabetes, with the Get Checked programme a cornerstone of efforts to reduce diabetes in New Zealand. In 2003, 61,246 people with diabetes received a free annual check, an increase of 96 percent since 2001.

The national rollout of Healthline, a free 24-hour telephone triage and health advice line, will also contribute to our overall goal of improved access to primary health care services when completed in mid-2005. "But if 2004 is remembered for anything above all else in health, it will be for the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Act coming into force tomorrow," says Ms King.

"Illnesses relating to smoking continue to take an inordinate share of total health spending, so the gains we are making, particularly with young people, are welcome. To give one specific example, the average number of year ten students smoking on a daily basis has fallen from 16 to 12 percent over 1999-2003."

Ms King said other notable developments this year have included the orthopaedics project and the start of the rollout of the Meningococcal B Immunisation Programme. "I look forward to reporting on future progress in implementing the New Zealand Health Strategy to reduce inequalities and improve the health of all New Zealanders. We are doing better in many areas, but we need to do better still. I am confident the health sector will remain committed to doing just that.”

The full report is on the Ministry of Health website, www.moh.govt.nz/publications.

ENDS

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