Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


The challenge of reducing health inequities

The challenge of reducing health inequities and improving health outcomes in New Zealand

The Healthier Lives – He Oranga Hauora National Science Challenge welcomes the announcement from the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Hon Megan Woods, which confirms funding for its 2019-2024 research strategy.

Director Professor Jim Mann says the new Healthier Lives five-year strategy puts equitable health outcomes at its very heart.

“We have forged new ground in health research by partnering with the Whānau Ora Iwi Leaders Group, as well as working with a committed group of communities, NGOs and health services who share our vision,” he says.

“New Zealand can be a world leader in our efforts to achieve equitable health outcomes. The group of eminent international scientists who reviewed Healthier Lives earlier this year was impressed by the way in which the Challenge is working effectively to enhance equity, commonly stated as a goal internationally.”

Healthier Lives, which is charged with reducing the burden of major New Zealand health problems, consulted widely to develop an innovative strategy focusing future research into three broad areas:

1. Healthy food and physical activity environments

2. Culturally centred health interventions

3. Precision medicine and personalised prevention.

“Over the next five years, Healthier Lives will consolidate a portfolio of activities within these three themes, guided by an overarching determination to reduce health inequities,” says Professor Mann.

“The new themes acknowledge that to improve health outcomes we need to work at many levels, ranging from systems that affect the health of the whole population, to approaches that are effective for particular communities, as well as interventions that take into account the genetic make-up and life experiences of individuals.”

Although there have been significant health improvements over the last few decades, New Zealand still has very high rates of non-communicable diseases and major inequities in health outcomes, for example:

· heart disease occurs six to eight years earlier in Māori and Pacific populations than in the rest of the population;

· adults living in the most economically deprived areas of New Zealand have obesity rates 1.7 times higher than those in least deprived areas;

· new cancer registration rates are almost a third higher for Māori than non-Māori;

· the prevalence of diabetes in Māori and Pacific populations is around three times higher than among other New Zealanders, and also high among South Asian populations.

Healthier Lives Governance Chair Dr Jenny McMahon is proud of what the Challenge has already achieved: “Healthier Lives has been up and running for just three years, a relatively short time in terms of research results, but is already making significant headway in its mission to turn the tide of non-communicable diseases,” she says.

Notable achievements include:

· An early outcome of Healthier Lives research, jointly supported by the Health Research Council of NZ, Ministry of Health and Heart Foundation, is a new approach to detecting cardivascular disease risk. This will enable protective measures to be recommended earlier than is currently the case and particularly benefit those at high risk of developing the disease.

· Healthier Lives researchers have also shown that a simple blood test to detect circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) in colorectal cancer and melanoma patients has potential to improve monitoring of these diseases. By reducing the need for frequent hospital scans it promises particular benefit for cancer patients living in rural and isolated parts of the country.

· A mobile phone app aimed at encouraging healthy lifestyle choices, (OL@-OR@) has potential to support prevention of disease from an early age. The app was co-designed by Healthier Lives researchers with several Māori and Pacific communities, and is currently being evaluated.

The Healthier Lives Challenge is hosted by the University of Otago. Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research and Enterprise, Professor Richard Blaikie praised Healthier Lives for its rapid progress and highly collaborative approach to science.

“It has been exciting to see how Healthier Lives has constructively engaged with a wide range of partners to improve the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders. They received high praise from national and international experts for the way in which their highly collaborative approach has become a fulcrum for real change. ”

Sample highlights in Healthier Lives news stories of the past year:

· Detecting CVD risk for NZ’s unique populations

· Reducing inequities for cancer patients in New Zealand

· Empowering youth for a healthier Pasifika generation

· Putting healthcare into patients’ hands

· Empowering people to take charge of diabetes

· Canterbury quake damage increased risk of CVD


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Westpac: Sets Out Plan To Go Cheque-Free

Westpac NZ has announced details of its plan to phase out cheques, after signalling in May that it would be supporting a move to other forms of payment. Cheques will cease to be available as a means of payment after 25 June 2021. Westpac NZ General ... More>>


NZTA: Major New Zealand Upgrade Programme Projects Go To Tender

Two major New Zealand Upgrade Programme projects are beginning tenders for construction. The New Zealand Upgrade Programme is a $6.8 billion investment to get our cities moving, to save lives and boost productivity in growth areas. The first Auckland ... More>>

Reserve Bank: RBNZ Seeks To Preserve Benefits Of Cash

The Reserve Bank – Te Pūtea Matua is taking on a new role of steward of the cash system “to preserve the benefits of cash for all who need them”, Assistant Governor Christian Hawkesby told the Royal Numismatics Society of New Zealand annual conference ... More>>


Economy: Double-Dip Recession Next Year, But Housing Rolls On

New Zealand's economy is expected to slip back into recession early next year as delayed job losses, falling consumer spending, and the absence of international tourists bites into growth. More>>


Microsoft New Zealand: Microsoft Expands “Highway To A Hundred Unicorns” Initiative To Support Startups In Asia Pacific

New Zealand, 14 October 2020 – Today Microsoft for Startups launches the Highway to a Hundred Unicorns initiative in Asia Pacific to strengthen the region’s startup ecosystem. This follows the initiative’s success in India, where 56 startups were ... More>>

Fonterra: Farmers Taking Another Step Towards New Zealand’s Low Emissions Food Production

They’re hot off the press and intended to help take the heat out of climate change. Fonterra farmers are already among the world’s most sustainable producers of milk and now have an additional tool in their sustainability toolbox. Over the last few ... More>>


Courts: Businessman Eric Watson Sentenced To A Four-Month Jail Term

New Zealand businessman Eric Watson has been sentenced to a four-month jail term in the UK for contempt of court, TVNZ reports. More>>

OECD: Area Employment Rate Falls By 4.0 Percentage Points, To 64.6% In Second Quarter Of 2020

The OECD area employment rate – the share of the working-age population with jobs – fell by 4.0 percentage points, to 64.6%, in the second quarter of 2020, its lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2010. Across the OECD area, 560 million persons ... More>>

Spark: Turns On 5G In Auckland And Offers A Glimpse Into The Future Of Smart Cities

Spark turned on 5G in downtown Auckland today and has partnered with Auckland Transport (AT) to showcase some of the latest in IoT (Internet of Things) technology and demonstrate what the future could look like for Auckland’s CBD with the power of 5G. 5G is ... More>>

Stats NZ: Monthly Migration Remains Low

Since the border closed in late-March 2020, net migration has averaged about 300 a month, Stats NZ said today. In the five months from April to August 2020, overall net migration was provisionally estimated at 1,700. This was made up of a net gain ... More>>

University of Canterbury: Proglacial Lakes Are Accelerating Glacier Ice Loss

Lake Tasman, New Zealand | 2016 | Photo: Dr Jenna Sutherland Meltwater lakes that form at glacier margins cause ice to recede much further and faster compared to glaciers that terminate on land, according to a new study. But the effects of these glacial ... More>>


Dairy: Fonterra Sells China Farms

Fonterra has agreed to sell its China farms for a total of $555 million (RMB 2.5 billion*1), after successfully developing the farms alongside local partners. Inner Mongolia Natural Dairy Co., Ltd, a subsidiary of China Youran Dairy Group Limited ... More>>