09 August 2013

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) welcomes the Ministry of Health’s newly released reportHealth Loss in New Zealand.

“This comprehensive study will be an important tool to guide health policy and funding decisions and we congratulate the Ministry for undertaking this work,” says NZMA Chair Dr Mark Peterson.

 “Three key aspects of the study stand out: the long-term health effects of both obesity and tobacco smoking; and the fact that Māori have a 75% higher rate of health loss than non-Māori.

“We must therefore continue to actively pursue the achievement of a Smokefree New Zealand by 2025 and also apply the same energy to addressing obesity and nutrition.”

The last issue of the New Zealand Medical Journal carried a number of articles relating to Māori health. In an editorial on the subject, public health physician Dr Julia Carr pointed out that Māori experience higher exposures to risk factors for poor health, more injury, more disability and poorer outcomes when they interact with health services.

“The Health Loss report confirms that we have continuing challenges to address to improve health equity,” says Dr Peterson. “The fact health loss in Māori is almost 1.8 times higher than in non Maori and that this occurs at earlier on in life is unacceptable.

“Addressing these issues must be a priority for us all – government, society, industry and health professionals.”