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A New Public Health Bill

21 November 2007 Media Statement

A New Public Health Bill

A new Bill designed to improve and protect New Zealanders’ public health was introduced to Parliament today by the Health Minister David Cunliffe.

“Our public health legislation has served us well for over fifty years. It is now time to update it and bring it into the 21st century.”

Health Minister David Cunliffe says “the Public Health Bill is a fundamental piece of legislation that protects public health. It will replace the Health Act 1956 and the Tuberculosis Act 1948.”

“The Bill covers traditional aspects of public health such as controlling infectious disease, and providing for sanitary housing conditions, but modernises approaches and enables us to deal with a much wider range of public health threats.”

Mr Cunliffe says that “throughout this Bill, the rights of the individual are balanced with the public interest to be protected from disease and other threats to public health including non-communicable diseases. Where individual rights are limited in the public interest, the Bill ensures that there are safeguards.”

“One of the features of the Bill are updated provisions to protect New Zealand’s borders from all risks to public health and to take account of the changes in International travel. The Government has already responded to specific threats at our borders arising from pandemic influenza with the Epidemic Preparedness Act.”

Mr Cunliffe says “this Bill takes things a step further and allows all health threats to be managed at the border including viruses that we do not even know about yet. This means that if someone entering New Zealand is suspected of being a serious risk to public health, steps can be taken to prevent the spread of that disease.”

The Public Health Bill is expected to get its first reading in December.

For more information visit the Ministry of Health website, www.moh.govt.nz


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