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MSD's 2008 Social Report a sham

Media Release:

29th July 2008

MSD's 2008 Social Report a sham


The 2008 Social Report issued by the Ministry of Social Development paints a positively glowing picture of life in NZ – but Sensible Sentencing Spokesperson on Drug Issues, says it is a sham. Ms. Davey notes that the issue of illicit drug use and associated future health outcomes is completely ignored, as if it doesn't exist.

“Cigarette smoking and 'potentially hazardous drinking' are highlighted, together with concern for the future health outcomes for people who indulge in these activities. Under the heading of Current Level and Trends it tells us that in 2006/2007, 22 percent of people aged 15–64 years were cigarette smokers, and 22.9 percent of drinkers aged 15 years and over had a potentially hazardous drinking pattern, as indicated by an AUDIT score of eight or more.”

Ms Davey compares that with the recent World Health Organisation's (WHO) World Mental Health Survey Initiative, in which it was found that New Zealand ranks second only to the United States in a scientific survey of illegal cocaine and cannabis use in 17 countries, cannabis use being highest in the US (42.4 per cent), followed by New Zealand (41.9 per cent).

She also points out recent survey results published by Chris Wilkins of Massey's Centre for Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation, which state "Overall levels of methamphetamine use appear to be fairly stable but this research indicates there is a growing population of heavy users experiencing health (and legal) problems."

So why are these issues not included in the Health section of the 2008 Social Report?

Ms Davey points out that the recent Drug Harm Index revealed that hardcore drugs P, cocaine and Ecstasy gave New Zealand a bill of about $546 million for social costs in one financial year, and that they are a big part of the total $1.3 billion that drug use cost the country in 2005 and 2006.

“Therefore it can be concluded that illegal drugs are a sizeable part of NZ's social life which provide adverse health outcomes, and to neglect to include this information is to portray a false representation of NZ life today.”


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