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Govt must shift health focus to prevention

Govt must shift health focus to prevention

The Green Party is welcoming Labour's commitment to fund more cataract, knee and hip operations, but says it's time the Government got serious about health prevention as well as diagnosis and treatment.

"We are delighted that tens of thousands more operations are going to be funded, because they will help alleviate the suffering of the many Kiwis currently falling through the cracks in the health system," Green Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

"However, we must give greater priority in the health system to prevention and early intervention. The Greens believe it makes more sense to keep people well than to wait until they are sick before intervening.

"New Zealand spends $10 billion every year on health, but most of that goes on treating sickness. We need to tackle the root causes of ill-health and empower people to take greater care of themselves."

Ms Kedgley says that more hip and knee operations are a bottom-of-the-cliff solution that needs to be complemented with a fence-at-the-top-of-the-cliff approach.

"We know that Kiwis have high rates of obesity and undiagnosed diabetes, which contribute to the need for knee and hip operations. The Greens believe the country could save money in the long-run if we put more resources into stopping Kiwis from getting sick in the first place."

On Sunday, the Greens launched the first Green Solution of the Party's election campaign: a free, annual wellness check for all New Zealanders.

Ms Kedgley says the wellness checks would be a wonderful complement to the increased number of knee, hip, and cataract operations.

"The annual wellness check will provide an opportunity for a health professional to check for risk factors, like potential skin cancers and high blood pressure and cholesterol, carry out appropriate testing, including fitness and nutrition checks, and provide advice and make referrals where necessary. It's a chance for Kiwis to get advice on any concerns they have - like diet or managing chronic pain, or depression."

ENDS

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