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Dunne: Cardiovascular Disease Speech

Speech, Hon Peter Dunne

Associate Minister of Health PHARMAC's Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes Workshop,

Te Papa, Wellington

Thursday 13 March 2008

I'd like to welcome you to this important workshop. Long term conditions have been identified as a key priority for our health system.

So it's encouraging to see so many of you here. I hope you take an active part in the workshop.

We all know heart disease is a major killer in New Zealand. There is a 10 year mortality gap between Maori and non-Maori and the figures are also bad for Pacific people.

These statistics are unacceptable - and I know you will all be very familiar with the problem. The focus of this workshop is on the solution.

We've learnt a lot over the years from the Get Checked Programmes. Seven years ago only 15% of people with diabetes were on a statin.

The figures for Maori were even lower. Only 60% of Maori with diabetes had even had their cholesterol recorded. And of those who had, 20% of them had a cholesterol reading of greater than 9.

Today, lipid levels that high would be considered positively dangerous. And today, 60% of people with diabetes are now on a statin.

New Zealand's use of statins is now higher than Australia's. But just as important, the statin gap for Maori has narrowed sharply. Indeed uptake for Maori and Pacific peoples has been higher than that of other New Zealanders.

Today the percentage of people with cholesterol reading of greater than 9 is extremely low. This is a great success story, and in this area we have a service that is among the very best in the world.

Medicines have been at the heart of this story. We've seen the better use of medicine in a primary care setting, to improve health outcomes for New Zealanders.

We've seen a co-ordinated approach to a major health issue, with health professionals working together. We've seen patient-centred care. And this workshop is about pushing forward and doing more of that, and entrenching what has been learnt.

These elements of good care are at the heart of Medicines New Zealand. And they will be key in addressing the problem of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

This conference isn't just about medicines, of course, although we all know just how important they are for the treatment and management of people with cardiovascular disease and diabetes. But the elements of a good medicines system as described in Medicines New Zealand are also the elements of a system that works well to prevent, treat, and manage cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

This isn't always easy, and it isn't always cheap. The extra funding for the PHO performance programme, which is on top of Care Plus and Services to Improve Access funding, recognises that additional effort and resources that are needed to deliver results that are better than good - that deliver an excellent service for those who need it.

I know there'll be lots to think about and talk about over the next two days. You'll hear about the PHO performance programme.

You'll hear about the DHB research fund - an initiative funded largely through the cost savings that PHARMAC is able to generate for our health system.

Most of all, this workshop is focused on patients, and in line with this there are four men here to speak about their journeys to better health. This will "make it real" and remind us that today is about people.

Today and tomorrow you'll get 'how to' tools to assess and treat heart disease and diabetes in their regions. It will help you plan to achieve those objectives and help you to evaluate outcomes.

Some of you already do this very well - but we can all gain by sharing our knowledge and experiences and there will be opportunities to speak to each other and learn during the workshop.

And so I see the vision of a medicines system that works for New Zealanders, as described in Medicines New Zealand, foreshadowing all the things you're going to talk and hear about today.

I hope it is a rewarding two days. I hope you learn, and share what you know. I hope you are challenged and inspired.

And I hope that as a result you'll be able to improve the care you provide in your communities, giving effect to the vision of Medicines New Zealand and the vision we all share for a healthier New Zealand


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