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Goodhew: 2014 Heart Foundation Forum

Jo Goodhew

14 APRIL, 2014

Speech: 2014 Heart Foundation Forum

E aku rangatira, tēnā koutou katoa. Ka nui te honore ki te mihi ki a koutou.

Good morning, it is my pleasure to be able to open the 2014 Heart Foundation Forum.

Thank you Tony for your warm welcome.

I acknowledge the life members, board members and delegates.

I would also like to acknowledge this morning’s other speakers Prof Phil Baker, Chair of Gravida and Professor of Maternal and Foetal Health at the University of Auckland, and Dr Debbie Ryan, Director of Pacific Perspectives.

I congratulate the Heart Foundation for bringing together the Heart Foundation community both volunteers and paid staff under one roof.

The Heart Foundation has a significant volunteer workforce whose work is integral to the achievements of the Foundation.

We have come a long way in reducing the burden of heart disease in New Zealand.

I am here today to acknowledge the contribution the Heart Foundation has made in this journey and the work we still have to do.

When we tackle diseases such as heart disease we need a three pronged approach consisting of prevention, early detection and effective treatment.

We also need a co-ordinated effort across different agencies and settings.

The Foundation’s Stop the Heartbreak document is a very useful input into this and I am pleased to note that the Government is already making progress on many of the actions identified.

Although the mortality rate from cardiovascular disease has halved over the last twenty years, I think we would all agree that too many New Zealanders continue to die unnecessarily, and far too early, from diseases that could be managed - or in some cases prevented altogether with the right intervention.

The health targets measure the effectiveness of the health system to systematically assess and identify those at risk of, or already being affected by the risk factors.

The More heart and diabetes checks and Better help for smokers to quit health targets were introduced to help address these needs and focus attention on some of New Zealand’s biggest killers.

It’s not a box-ticking exercise, it’s about saving lives.

In the past, if you developed diabetes or heart disease, unless you went in to see your doctor about it, there was no guarantee it would be picked up until something began to go wrong.

Today, we are working to ensure that our systems will identify you at the relevant age and initiate a risk-assessment conversation.

As a result, we are beginning to gain better understanding and control over these conditions, helping reduce their incidence.

Increasing the percentage of people being checked and offering more effective support to those who need it, promotes a greater capacity for effective self-management and also reduces the likelihood of further complications developing.

Our aim is to prevent, reverse or slow the progression of the condition for as long as possible.

In May last year, as part of Budget 2013, the Government provided an additional $15.9 million for more heart and diabetes checks.

At the end of December 2013, 73 percent of the eligible population had received a heart and diabetes check – an almost 18 percent improvement over the country in the last 12 months.

Achievement of the 90 percent target is now well within reach.

As we get closer to achieving the target, we will need to renew our focus on the efforts we are making to support New Zealanders to manage their heart disease and diabetes.

Shared treatment decisions as part of care that is planned in partnership with patients is a feature in the updated cardiovascular risk assessment guidance the Professor Norman Sharpe contributed to developing.

Tobacco products, meanwhile, kill about 5000 New Zealanders each year. Each of these deaths is preventable.

The Government has confronted this issue head on.

It has set a goal of reducing smoking prevalence and tobacco availability to minimal levels, thereby making New Zealand essentially a smokefree nation by 2025.

I am proud to say that we have already reduced the prevalence of daily smoking in New Zealand to 15 percent.

However, we still have a long way to go to being smokefree – especially among our Māori and Pacific populations.

One of the key contributors towards our success in tackling tobacco use is the excellent progress that we have made with the Better help for smokers to quit health target.

Stopping smoking is the best thing a person can do for their health.

We have moved to make smoking a medical issue that is addressed by all healthcare professionals.

By December 2013, the hospital component of the Better help for smokers to quit target was 95 percent and that had been achieved, the national performance for the primary care target was 66.5 percent.

Although the primary care target is still below the 90 percent goal, it represents a significant increase on the almost 24 percent result recorded a year earlier.

I am sure many of you will be familiar with other steps the Government is taking to help achieve the smokefree 2025 goal. These have included:

• increasing excise tax on tobacco products on a regular basis until 1 January 2016

• removing tobacco displays from shops

• raising the fines for retailers who sell tobacco to people under the age of 18

• introducing a Bill to progress plain packaging of tobacco products.

Heart Foundation teams are working closely with both the Ministry and Primary Health Organisations to support achievement of these targets.

The gains that have been made in both these targets over the last year have been the result of collective effort.

At the same time the Heart Foundation continues to demonstrate leadership in a range of other areas.

For instance, working with the food industry to support modification of manufactured foods to reduce their content of fat, salt and sugar is a very effective way of improving the quality of the food we eat.

I would also like to acknowledge the work your teams are doing in schools and early childhood settings.

Providing children with opportunities to make healthy choice is key to sustained health gain in our adult population.

Before I finish, I would like to take the opportunity this morning to acknowledge the work of your Medical Director before he leaves his position with you.

Professor Sharpe, I would like to thank you for bringing your clinical leadership, your knowledge of the sector and your years of expertise to bear on the issue of cardiovascular health.

You have made a significant contribution over the last 30 years to expert reviews of guidance for assessment and management of heart disease, including being inaugural Chair of the New Zealand Guidelines Group.

More recently you have provided support to the Ministry and to my colleagues and I by acting as a national clinical leader for the More heart and diabetes checks health target, as well as being a tireless champion for rheumatic fever prevention.

I thank you for your contribution and we know that we will continue to benefit from your wisdom and leadership long after you leave the position as Medical Director at the Heart Foundation.

We wish you well.

It’s a privilege for me to be here with you this morning and I am very pleased to open your 2014 Forum.

Thank you.

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

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