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Health: A Fresh Look

The Mapp Report - 26 June 2006

Health: A Fresh Look

Doctors strikes, long waiting lists for operations and the huge cost of bureaucracy has made health a highlight of New Zealand news recently.

But health is not just about these issues. Health is also about New Zealanders doing the right things to keep healthy through good eating, exercise and balanced lifestyles.

New Zealanders are increasingly concerned about what they eat. In particular there is a huge move to natural foods and away from processed foods. As a result the natural health products industry is booming.

I have been to a number of health presentations in the last few months including one at the Bruce Mason on dietary supplements. Eight hundred North Shore people paid $15 each to attend.

More recently at another presentation 200 people paid $65 each to attend. The keynote speakers were; Professor Ian Brighthope, a physician from Australia; Dr Paul Butler, a medical practitioner in the North Shore; and Alison Roe, well known athlete and resident in Milford. The forum was on “wellness” and the role of natural health products in good health.

Speakers stressed the importance of a healthy lifestyle for overall well being and the benefits of natural health products to achieve this.

However, the New Zealand natural health product industry is under threat. The Labour Government is proposing that New Zealand sign up to the Trans Tasman Therapeutic Goods Agency.

Usually Trans Tasman cooperation makes sense. But in this instance New Zealand will be the loser. The proposal requires New Zealand adopt the Australian regime. The cost of compliance will be huge. New Zealand consumers and businesses will loose out. In many cases New Zealand businesses will close.

Professor Brighthope suggested a sensible pathway out of the conundrum which consists of three separate regulatory regimes for:

A) Pharmaceutical and medical products

B) Natural Health Products

C) Food

As Alison Roe made clear, New Zealand is a pioneering country. We don’ t have to take someone else’s second best solution. We are used to being innovators and leaders.

This is a case where the existing New Zealand rules should prevail and for Australia to choose whether to follow suit.

New Zealand is proud of its clean green image. Using our biotechnological base provides a great opportunity for New Zealand companies to build a global presence in natural health products.

National is clear. We will do nothing that will hurt New Zealand consumers and businesses. The TGA proposal by the Labour government requires fundamental changes to ensure the natural health product industry continues to thrive. Professor Brighthope suggests a sensible a sensible way forward. Maybe the government could actually listen for a change.

We are holding a meeting on 14 August 2006 on "A Sustainable Health Economy" at Mary Thomas Centre, Gibbon Road, Takapuna, with Alison Roe, Dr Paul Butler and John Appleton


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