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Hodgson: Implementing the NZ Health Strategy 2005

Implementing the NZ Health Strategy 2005

Speech for the launch of Implementing the New Zealand Health Strategy 2005, Lower Hutt

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Introduction

My warmest thanks to the Chair of Hutt Valley District Health Board, Peter Glesnor, the Chief Executive Chai Chuah, the people of Hutt Valley, the other speakers, and guests here today at the launch of the Implementing the New Zealand Health Strategy 2005.

The New Zealand Health Strategy is now five years old. Some of the many achievements outlined in this, the fifth annual report are: reduced tobacco consumption, the lowest suicide rate in twenty years and the launch of a forty million Cancer Control Strategy and Action Plan.

Let's look at some of the areas of the biggest changes and specific achievements over the last year.

Smoking

Legislation such as the Smoke-free Environments Act is an important component of delivering on the goals of the New Zealand Health Strategy. It's just over a year since we went smoke-free in our bars, restaurants and workplaces. A first anniversary report assessing the impacts, found strong public support, increasing patronage trends in bars, and no significant economic impacts for hospitality venues overall. Legislation is a tangible marker in time, but it is only part of the smoke-free strategy. Ongoing are programmes to help people quit, helping our children to never start smoking, and to promote healthier life habits. Tobacco consumption has decreased by one third in the last decade, which is one of the biggest decreases of any OECD country.

Legislation combined with additional support programmes means thirty thousand fewer New Zealanders are smoking since 2002. That's a tremendous achievement.

Knowing how many people locally we still have to reach and support to quit becomes part of the solution for communities and brings me to the next greatest change; the population approach to delivering health services, health promotion, reducing inequalities and managing chronic disease.

Population approach to health
Here in Hutt Valley a Primary Health Organisation (PHO) gave out frozen chickens in return for people handing in their cigarettes. Another held a 'Moko Idol' competition to invite their young to perform on stage and to do health promotion with the whanau who came along to watch.

Both examples are innovative and memorable, but they are also part of a strategy to meet people where they are in their communities, and engage in action for health. The population approach looks closely at the makeup of a community and asks many questions. Is the community young or older? What are the specific characteristics of the local population? Are the children immunised and 'fit for school'? What is happening in the community? How do people earn their money? Who is using services and who wants to use more services? Can more services be provided in schools, workplaces, marae, or even at sports matches? What is the health status of local people? How do they like to like to keep fit and healthy?

Knowing our populations means people can pick up initiatives more easily. Healthy Eating - Healthy Action: Oranga Kai - Oranga Pumau is an approach to improving nutrition, increasing physical activity and achieving healthy weight for all New Zealanders. Obesity, and the impact of diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, can be modified by the actions outlined in the plan launched last June. Premature death due to poor nutrition, physical inactivity and obesity are unsupportable. But the health sector alone cannot produce the outcomes this Strategy demands - we need to encourage change right across our communities and the wider New Zealand society.

Increased investment

Obviously another big driver of change has been financial. There has been 2.2 billion dollars of additional money over six year into primary health. This government has, for the last six years, been committed to lifting the quality of life for all New Zealanders. All enrolled members of PHOs sixty-five or over, or under twenty-four pay no more than 3 dollars for most of their medicines and pay considerably less than they used to when visiting their general practice.

We have also witnessed the largest public hospital upgrades in New Zealand history. During 2005 substantial work continued on major projects in Kaitaia, Wellington, Green Lane, Hamilton, Thames and in Dunstan Hospital in Otago. If we are going to deliver the kinds of health service goals outlined in the Strategy, then we need to build and maintain high quality, accessible and safe public health facilities.

Quality

Today's report also includes progress on the Improving Quality Strategy released two years ago. Continuously striving to improve the ways we do things can lead to everyday innovation. Health services are changing, technology is changing, and the interaction and team approach between professionals is changing. In the auditorium today the Magnet exhibition is evidence of many home-grown initiatives from the staff of Hutt Valley District Health Board. I congratulate you all. The Magnet movement is a powerful tool for staff and the evidence for good outcomes for you, and those you serve, continues to grow.

Conclusion

I thank you for this opportunity to speak and I look forward to working with you over the next few years.

ENDS

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