Prevention theme in Greens' health policy
The Green Party announced its health policy to the National Press Club in Wellington today, with a distinctive theme of "prevention as well as cures".
"Our focus is on preventing rather than treating illness," Sue Kedgley, Green Party Health Spokesperson, told a breakfast meeting of the club in Bellamy's Members' Dining Room in the Beehive.
"We've got to address the underlying causes of ill health -- poverty, poor nutrition, our exposure to toxins in our food, our water, our air, our homes and our workplaces," she said. "We've also got to treat illness early, significantly increase our spending on nutritional education and make sure that people are able to look after themselves well." Ms Kedgley said the party wants a five fold increase in the preventive health budget to spend on measures which will reduce the number of people ending up in hospitals and requiring costly hospital care.
"If we dont reduce the number of people coming into the hospital system, costs will continue to skyrocket and our health system will become an endless source of conflict," she said.
"Clearly, if we want to improve the health of New Zealanders and reduce the number of chronic dietary related diseases, we need to improve the nutritional quality of the food we eat and remove the long term risks to our health such as toxins and carcinogens, pathogens and other food borne risks that are known to be hazardous."
The Greens also want to set up community based health clinics around New Zealand where "complementary health practitioners can work alongside complementary health practitioners".
"Orthodox Western medicine is based around treating illness rather than preventing disease," she said. "We need to acknowledge that there are other healing practices which are effective in helping prevent disease and in treating some illnesses in a low-tech, cost effective way," she said.