Implementing the New Zealand Health Strategy

  • Pete Hodgson
Health

Welcome everyone, and thank you for being here today to reflect on and celebrate the work of the health sector in 2006. I am pleased to be launching Implementing the New Zealand Health Strategy at a Primary Health Organisation for the first time.

My thanks especially to Larry Jordan, Chair of Tumai mo te Iwi PHO, for hosting us at this launch. Thank you also to the Capital and Coast DHB, and Deputy Chair of the Board, Judith Aitken for speaking on its behalf.

Healthy Eating – Healthy Action

The theme of today’s launch is Healthy Eating – Healthy Action. I am grateful to Ranei Wineera-Hill and David Bishop for sharing Tumai mo te Iwi’s experiences promoting healthy lifestyles – particularly relating to nutrition and physical.

In your work with others – Capital & Coast DHB, Porirua City Council, Porirua Healthlinks, Regional Public Health, Te Runanga o Toa Rangatira, Pacific Health Service Porirua and Porirua Health Plus PHO – you have given us an inspirational and exciting example of what the health sector can do to address determinants of health.

This government introduced the New Zealand Health Strategy six years ago and it remains central in directing work in the health sector. It provides a clear vision for the New Zealand health sector and for the development of health services.

Implementing the New Zealand Health Strategy 2006 summarises actions this year across the health sector to implement the Strategy, with a special focus on local activities of DHBs and PHOs. It celebrates the health sector’s hard work and progress this year.

Prominent in the report this year is the gathering momentum of the Health Eating – Healthy Action: Oranga Kai – Oranga Pumau strategy. Through HEHA we hope to create an environment where individuals, families and whanau, and communities are supported to eat well, live physically active lives, and attain and maintain a healthy body weight.

Work done here in Porirua is featured in this section of the report. The wide range of lifestyle intervention programmes featured is extremely encouraging; from community-based physical activity programmes under the Green Prescription umbrella, to the expanding Fruit in Schools programme.

The collaboration, which you have so brilliantly displayed locally, is increasingly being promoted between different areas of government. Mission On, announced in September, is a three-year package of initiatives to encourage healthy long-term behaviours in young New Zealanders. It is the result of work involving myself, the Associate Minister of Health, and the Ministers of Education, Sport and Recreation, and Youth Development.

Primary Health Care Strategy

Primary health is critical to delivering good health and wellbeing for all New Zealanders, reducing inequalities, and managing the significant increase we have seen in rates of chronic conditions. The Primary Health Care Strategy has remained an ongoing priority for the health sector this year.

A key achievement during 2006 has been the reduction of primary care fees for people aged 45-64 years. Median fees have decreased from $52 to $26. If you are serious about the prevention of ill health, and at all interested in helping people adopt healthy behaviours then improving their access to health professions is an essential part of any strategy.

The additional money that has flown into the health sector since the PHCS inception is evidence of our determination to do just this. PHOs’ adoption of the recent very low cost access payments represents another success. A total of 212 practices across 55 PHOs are participating. The payments reward and support PHOs and practices that have forgone revenue from patient fees in pursuit of low cost access, typically in high need communities.

Child and youth health services will always be a priority for this Labour-led Government. The rollout of the Meningococcal B Immunisation programme was successful, with the vaccine available until the end of this year for those under 20 years old to complete their vaccinations. For babies and children from six weeks to five years old, the vaccine will be available until 2009, or until medical evidence indicates the programme can be ended sooner. We have seen a 57 pe cent reduction in cases of epidemic-strain meningococcal disease between 2003 and 2005. In total 80 per cent of young people aged six weeks to 19 years has received all three doses. This has been a massive task, involving well over three million doses of vaccine and I am very appreciative of the efforts of the army of the thousands of people involved.

I mentioned chronic conditions earlier. Managing the increasing burden of chronic conditions is a significant challenge facing the health sector. Both the Implementation of HEHA and improving access to primary care will help to prevent, manage and reduce the impact of chronic conditions on the population.

Smoking

Reducing smoking is another vital way to prevent further growth in the incidence of chronic conditions. This report identifies a decrease in youth smoking between 1999 and 2005, with a related increase the number of young people who have never smoked.

The introduction of legislation to make all indoor workplaces smokefree, including restaurants and bars, has been a success. In 2004 approximately 21 per cent of people surveyed reported being exposed to second-hand smoke in their workplace. This year that number dropped to 8 per cent and public support for the legislation continues to be buoyant since its introduction.

Health Infrastructure and Workforce

A well-equipped public hospital system is an asset for all New Zealanders, and the report details how we have are in the middle of the largest upgrade of our hospital infrastructure for a generation: a billion dollar investment. New hospitals have opened this year in Wairarapa and Dunstan, and upgraded facilities opened in Counties Manukau. Two weeks ago I open the third stage of the Kenepuru Community Hospital - a short distance from here. Significant capital investment has also been made into oral health and mental health facilities around New Zealand.

Maintaining and developing our health infrastructure is vital for the ongoing functioning of our health system. The workforce is at the heart of our health system and the newly created Workforce Taskforce has been given the job of taking an action-oriented approach to progress workforce development, building on the previous few years of strategic work carried out by the Health Workforce Advisory Committee. I look forward to working with the Taskforce over the coming year.

The health sector is charged with achieving the greatest health gain within limited resources, so working toward greater efficiency and value for money is a priority. This year the health sector has implemented a new collaborations decision-making framework: the Service Planning and New Health Intervention Assessment Framework, or SPNIA. Historically, new technology has been a driver of increases in health care costs. SPNIA has been adopted so that new health interventions are evaluated in a considered way to ensure value for money.

Implementing the New Zealand Health Strategy 2006 clearly illustrates the commitment to improving New Zealanders’ health and wellbeing that exists throughout the health sector.

Thank you everyone for coming here today, and thank you to the health sector for all your hard work in 2006. I wish you all the best for the festive season, and look forward to seeing even more progress on implementing the Health Strategy in 2007. Thank you.

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