Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Ministry leaves NZ unprepared for bird flu

Ministry leaves New Zealand unprepared for bird flu

New Zealand is woefully unprepared for a potential outbreak of bird flu, which experts warn could be on the brink of crossing to humans, Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

There is only a tiny stockpile in New Zealand of the only anti-viral drug that is considered to be effective in combating bird flu, should it cross to humans.

“The Ministry of Health has confirmed, in answer to a written question from me, that it has supplies for only 20,000 treatments of one anti-viral drug. This would not even begin to cover 45,000 front line health professionals - never mind the rest of us. That amount would treat only about 0.5 percent of the population, Ms Kedgley said.

"Australia is building sizable stockpiles of antiviral drugs, and Japan has enough to provide treatment to 20 per cent of the population. Why on earth does New Zealand not have a similar supply.

“I’m staggered that the Ministry has had over a year to increase the stockpile of drugs but did nothing about it till December. It seems to me they are stalling on the purchase to try and save money. It now seems they’re still trying to negotiate over supplies and there is no guarantee that we will even get them this year.

“The Minister acknowledges in answer to my question that the date is dependent on ‘production schedules’ - and given that countries all over the world are desperately trying to stockpile this particular anti-viral drug, this means there is no guarantee that the supplies will arrive.

“In the meantime we are left woefully unprepared with only enough medication for 20 000 treatments. And this begs the question, which health professionals are going to get it first.”

“It’s unpleasant and scary to have to think about this, but it is essential that we do, otherwise we might find ourselves caught in a crisis, Ms Kedgley said.

“With the WHO warning that the disease seems to be mutating to humans, we need to be properly prepared. Experts warn that if the pandemic arrives it will be an immediate threat to the health of nearly everyone on earth, because none of us have an underlying immunity to the new strain, which could spread through air travel to most countries within three months of an outbreak.

“With the numbers of travellers entering New Zealand ever increasing it is almost inevitable that an outbreak would quickly reach our shores.

“Experts already acknowledge that the supply of anti-viral drugs would be grossly inadequate at the start of any epidemic and that there would be an international scramble to get them. That’s why it’s essential that we should have planned ahead.”

Ms Kedgley said the Ministry of Health made the initial purchase of the medication well over a year ago.

“Given that health experts have been calling on the Government to stockpile anti-viral medical for some time now, I can’t understand why the Ministry of Health has not negotiated for further supplies over the past year, and why we are left exposed, possibly until the end of the year, before we get additional supplies of the medication.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Ruataniwha: DOC, Hawke's Bay Council Developer Take Supreme Court Appeal

The Department of Conservation and Hawke's Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) are appealing to the Supreme Court over a conservation land swap which the Court of Appeal halted. More>>


With NZ's Marama Davidson: Women’s Flotilla Leaves Sicily – Heading For Gaza

Women representing 13 countries spanning five continents began their journey yesterday on Zaytouna-Oliva to the shores of Gaza, which has been under blockade since 2007. On board are a Nobel Peace Laureate, three parliamentarians, a decorated US diplomat, journalists, an Olympic athlete, and a physician. A list of the women with their background can be found here. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Key Style Of Crisis Management

At Monday’s post Cabinet press conference Key was in his finest wide- eyed “Problem? What problem?” mode. No, there wasn’t really a problem that top MPI officials had been at odds with each other over the meaning of the fisheries policy and how that policy should be pursued... More>>


Mt Roskill: Greens Will Not Stand In Likely Post-Goff By-Election

“The Green Party’s priority is changing the Government in 2017, and as part of that we’ve decided that we won’t stand a candidate in the probable Mt Roskill by-election... This decision shows the Memorandum of Understanding between Labour and the Green Party is working." More>>


Wellington: Predator Free Capital Plan

Wellington City Council (WCC), the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) and NEXT Foundation, today announced a joint collaboration to make Wellington the first Predator Free capital city in the world. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Judith Collins’ Efforts At Self Correction

Thousands of prisoners currently in prison may be entitled to an earlier release than expected – and compensation – because Corrections has incorrectly calculated their term of imprisonment. Unless of course, the government buries its mistakes by changing the law and retro-actively getting itself off the hook… More>>


More Justice & Corrections

Sector Opposes Bill: Local Government Bill Timeframe Extended

The Minister of Local Government Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has asked the Select Committee to extend the report back date for the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2). More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news