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First review of Asian health in NZ Released

Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister of Health

4 July 2006 Media Statement


Minister releases first review of Asian health in NZ

Research released today showing that new Asian migrants are infrequent users of health services including screening and preventative care should be a cause of concern for the health sector and the Asian community, Health Minister Pete Hodgson said today.

Releasing the first comprehensive review of the health of New Zealand's Asian population – the Asian Health Chartbook 2005 – the Minister said that the health of Asian New Zealanders was strong overall, but maintaining that would require better use of health services.

"The Labour-led government believes in a health system that works for all New Zealand communities," Pete Hodgson said. "We're pleased to see that the overall health status of Asian New Zealanders is strong – life expectancy is higher than average and avoidable mortality rates are lower.

"However, there are some areas of concern for the government. We're particularly concerned to see low take-up of preventative and primary care, especially among new migrants. If people stay away from primary care, they're less likely to get ahead of their health issues before they become serious problems."

Data released in the Chartbook shows:

- Asian life expectancy is higher than the New Zealand average and avoidable mortality rates are lower

- Cervical screening and mammography rates for Asian women are lower than the rates for New Zealand European women

- Self-reported diabetes rates among Indian people are three times higher than average and cardiovascular disease hospitalisation rates are also higher

- Asian women are less likely to be smokers

- Asian people are less likely to have seen a doctor or dentist in the past 12 months and are less likely to have a 'usual' primary carer

The Asian Health Chartbook was prepared by the Ministry of Health in partnership with Auckland Regional Public Health Service, the Centre for Asian Health Research and Evaluation in Auckland and The Asian Network Incorporated. It will be updated every five years.

Attached: Background information. The chartbook can be found at


Background Information:

The Chartbook divides New Zealand's Asian population into three groups - Chinese (who make up 40% of the total Asian population), Indian (25%)and Other Asian. Other Asian includes Koreans, Japanese, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Afghanis among others.

Data in the Chartbook has been derived from a variety of sources including the New Zealand Health Information Service, New Zealand Cancer Registry, Statistics New Zealand, National Screening Unit and the New Zealand Health Survey. The data relates mostly to 2001 to 2003.


The prevalence of self-reported diabetes is over three times higher for Indian people than the total population. Chinese and Other Asian also have higher point prevalence estimates of self-reported diabetes than the total population, but these differences are not statistically significant.

Cardiovascular disease:

In all age groups of 25 years and over, Chinese and Other Asian ethnic groups have significantly lower cardiovascular disease (CVD) hospitalisation rates than the total population. The CVD hospitalisation rate is significantly higher for Indians of all age groups of 25 years and over than Chinese and Other Asians and the total population. The relatively high CVD mortality among the Indian ethnic groups may be explained in part by the high prevalence of type 2 diabetes in this ethnic group.

Smoking rates:

All Asian females were significantly less likely to be current smokers than European females (controlling for age, deprivation and duration of residence in New Zealand). Males were not significantly different from European males.


Cancer registration rates are significantly lower for all Asian ethnic groups than the total population in all age groups of 25 years and over (with the single exception of Other Asian females aged 65+). Cancer mortality is lower in all the Asian ethnic groups than in the total population. Among the Asian ethnic groups, Other Asians have a higher cancer mortality rate than Chinese and Indians.Breast cancer registrations are significantly lower than the New Zealand average for Chinese, Indian and Other Asians and breast cancer mortality for Chinese and most probably Indian women than the total population.

Cancer screening:

Women of all Asian ethnic groups had a lower mammography screening uptake than New Zealand European women and also had a lower rate of cervical screening than New Zealand European women.

Use of primary care providers:

Controlling for age, sex and deprivation, Chinese, Indian and Other Asian people appear to be less likely to have a usual carer than Europeans. Asian people who have lived in New Zealand less than five years are significantly less likely to have a usual carer than those who have lived in New Zealand for 10 or more years or who were born here. Chinese, Indian and Other Asian people are less likely to have seen a doctor in the last 12 months than Europeans. All Asian groups are less likely to have seen a dentist in the last 12 months than Europeans.

Physical Activity:

Among the Asian ethnic groups, Chinese and Other Asian females were significantly less likely to participate in at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week than their total population counterparts.


See... Asian Health Chartbook 2006 (PDF)

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