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Opening of NZ Self Medication Industry Conference

Hon Peter Dunne

Associate Minister of Health

20 October 2016


Opening of New Zealand Self Medication Industry Conference

Sky City Convention Centre, Auckland

Kia ora tātou, talofa lava and warm greetings to you all.

Firstly, my thanks to Mr Mitch Cuevas and the NZSMI for your invitation to attend your annual conference once again.

I would like to acknowledge Scott Milne, Executive Director of SMI, and all the distinguished guests here today.

It is my pleasure to be able to address you on a few relevant topics to your conference.

As a starting point, as with any government, a top priority for us is improving access to health care and delivering better health services.

In Budget 2016, Health received an additional $568 million investment for new initiatives, meeting cost pressures, population growth and demographic changes.
This year’s investment in health is the largest increase in Government spending, which takes Vote Health to over $16 billion for 2016/17.

This means an additional:
· $400 million to support health and disability services through district health boards,

· $42.3 million for national disability support services,

· an extra $124 million over four years to increase access to new medicines through Pharmac,

· $24 million for more elective surgery,

· and $23 million towards cost pressures on services purchased by the Ministry, including ambulance services and primary care.
While most New Zealanders enjoy good health and have access to excellent health care services, looking to the future, we will need to work differently to meet changing health needs in a way that is more efficient and achieves the best value for money.

This will require people to take a greater responsibility for their own care and to be more engaged in the decision-making about their health care.

Self-care is becoming increasingly important as further demands are placed on health and social services.

Probably the oldest definition of self-care, which remains often quoted, is that of the World Health Organization, dating back to 1983:

“Self Care in health refers to the activities individuals, families and communities undertake with the intention of enhancing health, preventing disease, limiting illness, and restoring health. These activities are derived from knowledge and skills from the pool of both professional and lay experience. They are undertaken by lay people on their own behalf, either separately or in participative collaboration with professionals”.

I know that not all people may be able to take responsibility for managing their own health care through self-care but for those who are, we stand to make significant improvements for consumers and make wider savings to the New Zealand economy from better use of our health resources, cost savings from targeted use of complementary medicines, and savings in reduced doctor’s visits.

The refreshed New Zealand Health Strategy sets the framework for the health system to address the increasing pressures and significant demands on its services and on the health budget.

As the first refresh of this country’s Health Strategy since 2000, it sets the direction for development over the next 10 years.

The Strategy was the result of extensive engagement with the health sector and the New Zealand population over approximately eight months to develop a picture of what the future might look.

To get to this desired future, the Strategy puts greater emphasis on maintaining health, health literacy and illness prevention to reduce future demands and allow New Zealanders to live well, stay well and get well.

The strategy covers five strategic themes – people-powered, closer to home, value and high performance, one team, and smart systems.

The themes signal a focus on prevention and wellbeing, more integrated services, support for innovation, better collaboration, and ensuring information and services are accessible.

In other words, the Strategy sets out the framework for participative collaboration between consumers and professionals to achieve the best possible outcome for all.
As I have said in the past, I support the focus on self-care.

I believe that when people are empowered and enabled to take responsibility for their own care, they move from being passive recipients of care to being active participants in their own health outcomes.

But to achieve that fully, people also need to be properly informed about the impacts of the medications they are seeking to use – including both the potential benefits and the possible risks.

After all, self-medication is informed medication.

It is not do-it-yourself medication.

Nor is it just having the right to access any medicinal product one has discovered on the internet, nor is it a substitute for a proper regulatory environment for the approval of such products.

What is important therefore is that our policy and regulatory frameworks operate in a way compatible with a self-medication approach.

One of the most important professional groups, insofar as self-care is concerned, is pharmacy.

Medicines New Zealand, the government’s medicines strategy, which was updated and released in 2015 placed emphasis on the development of a road map for pharmacy

In June this year, the Minister of Health, Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman, launched the Pharmacy Action Plan.

Like the Health Strategy, the Action Plan places a real emphasis on all members of the health care team working more closely together for the benefit of our people to enable people to more actively manage their own health.

Pharmacists play a pivotal role in helping to deliver faster more convenient health care, particularly in enabling self-care, and the Action Plan is about putting people at the centre of what we do in health and across the social sector.
Internationally, pharmacists are increasingly providing an extended range of accessible, high-quality, coordinated services that focus on patient care and population health.
It is about making the most of pharmacists’ unique expertise in the safe and effective use of medicines, and a lot of work has been undertaken over the last two years to make more effective use of pharmacist skills.

I am sure you will all be interested to know that the topic of the next International Pharmaceutical Federation (or FIP) reference paper is about pharmacists supporting self-care.

The paper is due to be released next year.

The Pharmacy Action Plan is a significant milestone and achievement for the sector, and the engagement with consumers during the development of the Action Plan generated good insights into the potential future of pharmacist services and opportunities to expand the role of pharmacists in our health system.
One of the key focus areas of the Action Plan – population and personal health, is targeted towards pharmacists providing public health interventions that support people to manage their own health.
You will be interested to know that one of the points raised by consumers during the extensive consultation was that people want pharmacists to be more accessible within the pharmacy, and the Action Plan outlines ways to strengthen and expand the role of pharmacists.
In particular, the new role of Pharmacy Accuracy Checking Technician will free up pharmacists to spend more time with people to support them to better manage their own health.
As you know, the Ministry of Health is developing a new regulatory regime for therapeutic products.
Work to replace our aged Medicines Act 1981 with a Therapeutic Products Bill continues and many of you will have been involved in discussions about aspects of the new regulatory regime.
The Government is looking for the new Bill to enable modern regulatory practices and to provide a robust foundation to services innovation.
The new Bill will address gaps and inefficiencies in our current regulations and I am particularly interested in ensuring that the new Bill supports the continued evolution of pharmacy services and improved patient care.

I understand that officials will update you on the work and the next steps later today.

From my vantage point, however, the completion of this work and the establishment of a new regulatory framework for therapeutic products is critical to achieving Medicines New Zealand’s objectives of enabling prescribers, dispensers and consumers to move to a more integrated model of care, and re-orienting the medicines sector towards consumer-centred activity.

The Government will continue to support and provide the infrastructure needed for self-managed care and new ways of interacting with the health sector.
The Government has a clear eHealth vision – that all New Zealanders will have their personal health information available electronically to them and their treatment providers, regardless of who they are or where they are.
eHealth initiatives such as Patient Portals will assist patients to manage their own care and take more control of their care.
I hope the message you take is that the Government is committed to improving the health of New Zealanders and supports collaboration between consumers and professionals to achieve the best possible outcome for all.
Thank you again for your invitation to speak today, and I wish you all an interesting and enjoyable conference.

ends

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