Health Protection Bill passes third reading

  • Jonathan Coleman

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman welcomes the passing of legislation which improves the management of serious infectious diseases and makes sunbeds R18.

The Health (Protection) Amendment Bill passed its third reading in the House today.

“The legislation brings together two separate but equally important sets of changes which will protect New Zealanders from these preventable harms,” says Dr Coleman.

“The changes were necessary as current legislation uses a ‘sledgehammer to crack a nut’ approach to the management of infectious diseases, and doesn’t enable a proportionate response to the risk.

“This new legislation provides a tool box of graduated measures for managing infectious diseases in the community. It adds new provisions for the surveillance and management of infectious diseases.

“When voluntary cooperation does not work, the measures include directions applied by medical officers of health, court orders, and prosecution for offences under the legislation as a last resort.

“An additional option is a new administrative order, the urgent public health order, which requires the person who poses a risk of spreading infectious disease to be detained at a specified place for up to 72 hours.”

The second part of the legislation will stop the harm caused to people aged under 18 years by artificial (UV) tanning machines.

“There is strong evidence that people who use sunbeds increase their risk of melanoma and other more common skin cancers. There is also evidence that children and adolescents are more sensitive to UV,” says Dr Coleman.

“This legislation seeks to protect this vulnerable group while balancing the rights of informed adults.

“The Ministry of Health is also looking into whether licensing of premises and operators, and the introduction of mandatory standards, are appropriate.

“Consultation on possible regulations has been completed and I expect advice within the coming weeks.

“If the Government decides to proceed with such regulations, they could be in place as early as next year."