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Health a low priority in Budget
17 May 2007
Health seems not to have been a major priority for the Government in this year's Budget, says the New Zealand Medical Association.
While extra funding for particular projects is welcomed, overall there were few surprises or new initiatives in the Vote Health announcements.
"The Government has missed the opportunity to fund extra places for training medical students," said NZMA Chairman Dr Peter Foley. "Training more doctors is widely acknowledged as absolutely crucial for the future well-being of the medical workforce, and it would have been timely to have included an initial provision in the Budget."
Particularly welcome in the Budget is the extra $150 million (over four years) for the aged care residential sector, $238 million for elective surgery initiatives, and the $80 million to expand pharmaceutical-purchasing agency Pharmac's budget.
Other welcome funding announcements include extra money for the Healthy Eating - Health Action programme (to combat obesity), the Cancer Control strategy, information technology, the pneumococcal vaccine, the Get Checked diabetes programme, and primary care mental health.
The NZMA also welcomes the 50 percent expansion of the Step Up Scholarship programme, which will increase opportunities for students from low-income backgrounds.
Another disappointment was the lack of any increase in tax on tobacco, which would have had the effect of reducing smoking.