As first the Budget and then the election loom, clarity about what the big issues are is getting firmer and so are the policy positions.
Government can claim the economy is chugging along nicely (Tourism roars past dairy as NZ's biggest export earner - Business - NZ Herald News), but the evidence that we’re not all enjoying the pleasures it promises is no longer arguable: (NZ's wealth divide continues to grow - report | Radio New Zealand News; NZers face financial hardship when buying a house - analysis | Radio New Zealand News; Kiwis' private debts put the country at risk - Newsroom; Each day begins with ... fear' - shopworkers tell politicians | Radio New Zealand News).
The good news is we’re not alone: ('Call to action' for G20 health ministers ahead of Berlin meeting | Devex); echoes the Melbourne Demand for Action adopted at the World Congress on Public Health in April.
While President Trump sets about undoing the constraints his predecessor put on the banks that brought the international monetary system to its knees in 2008 (Big unwind of Wall St restrictions begins - Newsroom), our media provides us with better insights into our Government’s policy options (Finance Minister rules out tax cuts but lifts infrastructure spending - Politics - NZ Herald News; Under the skin of the new debt target - Newsroom), and effective pressure on corporate wealth and welfare (The big reveal: Lifting the lid on CEO pay - Business - NZ Herald News). And politicians' pecuniary interests (MPs' latest home ownership, interests revealed - National - NZ Herald News; Barry Soper: Most of our politicians well heeled lot - National - NZ Herald News; Government MPs' property ownership revealed | Radio New Zealand News).
The contribution of housing to wealth, inequality and disadvantage is now well-established. Five years of beavering away at how to quantify this has now verified what everyone in the community knows: (Housing affordability better for renters, worse for Auckland buyers: new government figures - Business - NZ Herald News; NZers face financial hardship when buying a house - analysis | Radio New Zealand News), and good advice to fix these problems is at hand: (IMF wants reforms to cut housing risks - Newsroom; More houses should be the primary target | Child Poverty Action Group; Will Joyce’s Working for Families changes be enough? • Child Poverty Action Group; When Good Intentions Are Not Enough: Smart Investment in Families Needs to Look To a Thriving Future for All - Morgan Foundation).
There’s plenty of advice now available to address some of our most critical environmental issues. After ten years as Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, is retiring from the job, to be succeeded by the Hon. Simon Upton, a former Minister of both Health and Environment. During her term, Jan Wright earned a reputation for "fearless independence and deep respect for evidence” (Dominion Post 1/04/17).
In his more recent role with the OECD, Simon Upton has also been unafraid of upsetting his former colleagues, pointing out that New Zealand’s economy "was starting to show its environmental limits with increasing greenhouse gas emission and water pollution” (Dominion Post 1/04/17). There are plenty of well-researched recent environmental reports to guide the new incumbent. (The environmental challenges NZ needs to think about - Newsroom; A Line in the Sand for Freshwater Quality? | Insight | Radio New Zealand; 'The mauri of our natural world has been diminished' | Radio New Zealand News; NZ needs to act now on rivers, top official warns | Radio New Zealand News; Landmark report finds freshwater at risk | Radio New Zealand News; Our water: 5 takeaways from today’s report - Newsroom; Councils faulted over Havelock North gastro outbreak | Radio New Zealand News). Let’s hope the new Commissioner can persuade his client, Parliament, to act on this advice.
If we could only stop obsessing about “ownership” and think about the environment as our most precious asset, we might get past the self-defeating arguments about responsibility for protecting our water, rivers and foreshore and seabed. (When the river runs dry: The true cost of NZ water - Newsroom; Water Fools? - The river is me | Radio New Zealand News; Rights claim made for all NZ's foreshore and seabed | Radio New Zealand News; Relax, Māori aren’t banning you from the beach. Or are we? | The Spinoff; Save us, I beg you, from this never-ending bullshit about the foreshore and seabed | The Spinoff).
Another sign of an election looming is the perennial resistance to Māori asserting Tiriti rights to "the unqualified exercise of their chieftainship over their lands, villages and all their treasures (taonga)”. Only a rabid materialist would interpret ‘taonga’ as excluding health and happiness. Last week a Māori health forum explored identity and belonging as fundamentals of health, and the role of te reo Māori and tikanga in fulfilling those fundamentals. So why is it so hard to resolve Māori calls for te reo Māori to be taught in schools? (Kaye expects 'healthy debate' over Te Reo in schools | Radio New Zealand News); Kura Kaupapa schools? (Kura has best scholarship achievement rate in NZ | Radio New Zealand News); Te Reo in public places? (The Kapiti Expressway, Māori road names, and the media outrage machine | The Spinoff; Maori Affairs Minister backs proposal for bilingual towns | Radio New Zealand News); Maori-run prisons? (Māori Party backs Māori-run prisons as 'inevitable' | Radio New Zealand News); and theft of intellectual property (Haka drink maker says sorry over 'cultural misappropriation' of name - NZ Herald; Uruguayan energy drink company 'bastardises' Maori culture | Stuff.co.nz).
Nau mai, haere mai! The Public Health Association is pleased to invite nominations for this year's Tū Rangatira mō te Ora Award.
The Award is presented annually to a person or rōpu/group demonstrating leadership in hauora Māori.
The Tū Rangatira mō te Ora Award has been awarded since 2010. It recognises the commitment made by nominees to hauora Māori.
The Tū Rangatira mō te Ora Award is an opportunity to recognise people who have worked with Māori communities, as well as people who have taken more prominent roles within whānau, hapū and/or iwi, including within marae.
The person or group nominated does not need to be a PHA member; however we do encourage membership of the PHA.
The nomination process is simple.
Complete the nomination form at www.pha.org.nz/awards, This includes an (up to) 400 word statement on why you are nominating them. The quality of the information you provide will greatly assist the selection process.
The successful nomination will be chosen by the PHA Awards Committee.
View last year's award recipient, Metiria Tūrei (pictured). See the list of Tū Rangatira mō te Ora Award recipients.
• Nominations open Monday 9 May 2017
• Nominations close Friday 23 June 2017
• Recipient/s notified Monday 3 July 2017
The Public Health Association is pleased to invite nominations for this year's Public Health Champion Award.
The purpose of the PHA's Public Health Champion Award is to recognise and profile the outstanding contribution by an individual to public health.
The criteria for the award are:
Nominees may be well known in a local community or be a well-known national public figure. Nominees do not need to be members of the PHA, but priority will be given to nominations by members.
Complete the nomination form at www.pha.org.nz/awards, including (up to) 400 words on why you are nominating them.
The quality of the information you provide will greatly assist the selection process.
View last year's Public Health Champions (pictured). See the list of previous Public Health Champions.
• Recipient notified Monday 3 July 2017
In many ways, the strongest symbol of the Congress was the opening ‘Welcome to Country’ by Auntie Joy Murphy of the Wurundjuri people of Melbourne. ‘Cultural welcomes’ at international conferences often feel like a grudging concession by organisers, but here there was a sense of space and respect.
Joy Murphy holds the Order of Australia for her work for social justice, and she talked movingly of the racism and injustice faced by her own ancestors, then shared a branch of leaves symbolising the freedom for Congress participants to use all the resources of the place they had come to. This provided the perfect platform for the formation of the WFPHA’s first Indigenous Working Group, a meeting held in the First Nations Networking Space hosted by VACCHO.
For me, much of the rest of the Congress was a test of my developing social media skills, trying to keep up with tweeting, posting, sharing, and taking photos while also trying to engage kanohi-ki-te-kanohi with as many people as possible. Our PHA stand, which featured our lovely new banner (and occasionally a guest appearance by my little kiwi travelling companion) provided a great spot for New Zealanders and others to gather, share enthusiasms, and learn about our upcoming events.
From the 30+ presentations I managed to get to all or some of, three themes really came home to me:
Colin Tukuitonga, well known here and now the Director-General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, was one of the first keynote speakers. In many ways he set the tone for other presentations, not only letting many participants see for the first time the impacts of climate change and other challenges on the Pacific, but also offering positive suggestions.
Maria Neira from the WHO presented a new international campaign on urban air quality; while at a local level, Parks Victoria, which started the now global “Healthy Parks, Healthy People” movement, hosted a symposium on ‘Nature as Medicine’ where participants came away with lists of do-able actions.
From the strong audiences and post-session buzz for sessions including New Zealand’s own Heather Came and Emma Rawson, it looks as though racism, particularly institutional racism as a determinant of health, is slowly starting to get global public health interest.
The First Nations space hosted informal discussions about indigenous collaboration with other groups who experience racism, and the possibilities of sharing successes. I was able to see and hear an indigenous health researcher whose work I’ve admired for quite a while, Kerry Arabena; unfortunately I wasn’t able to meet her, but perhaps we could invite her to Aotearoa New Zealand...
A highlight for me was Professor Mike Daube's Leavell Lecture on advocacy, which summarised his many years of work (I recommend his Advocacy in Action: A toolkit for Public Health Professionals). Not only did Mike Daube provide lists of great tips, but he sees PHAs worldwide as having an important role; not just advocating directly for health, but supporting and collaborating with others. That collaborating across countries is important to counter the power of global industry came across in so many presentations, with Ilona Kickbusch’s phrase “the commercial determinants of health” becoming a common slogan. It was very notable that World Health Organisation presenters were prepared to take a strong advocacy stance, for instance calling for taxing sugary drinks. Hopefully, some of the connections we made at the Congress will help us contribute, and learn from, new global collaborations for health.
Keriata StuartStrategic Advisor, Māori Public Health
Public Health Association of New Zealand Kāhui Hauora Tūmatanui
The 15th World Congress and the 50th birthday of the World Federation of Public Health Associations was a unique opportunity to engage with the wider world of public health and so many of its outstanding leaders. The theme - Voice, Vision, Action - was typically Australian - broad in scope, bold in its ambition and pragmatic in action.
For those who attended, and still have access to the Congress app, keep checking. The evaluation will appear shortly, to be followed by access to the about 95% of presentations - slides, speeches and videos - except where the presenter explicitly requested their material not be shared.
There is still opportunity to provide feedback to both the Congress organisers and to PHANZ. Your feedback will assist not only the World Federation but also both the Australian and NZ PHAs as we plan singly or together future events.
The company of so many of the world leaders in our profession is a much-appreciated stimulant for our thinking about our future in an era of considerable uncertainty and anxiety.
NZ’s three Congress Partners - the Health Promotion Forum, NZ College of Public Health Medicine and the PHA - will be thinking carefully about what the messages from this Congress mean for our particular context, and for continuing to keep our values alive with a greater sense of confidence that we are a part of the wider world of public health.
Public Health Association of New Zealand
It is a pleasure to invite you to join us in Otautahi Christchurch for the 2017 Public Health Association New Zealand Conference, to explore the connections and values of public health as we continue to build a healthier, stronger Aotearoa New Zealand.
This article originally appeared on Community Scoop. It was written by Warren Lindberg, our CEO.
Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman said back in April, “There is still no evidence a [sugar] tax would actually decrease obesity. There is no simple answer otherwise people would have tried it”.
We can agree with the part of his statement that says “there is no simple answer”, but there’re also quite a few people in the health sector determined to help the Minister find a range of answers – some complex, others quite simple.
I would also go so far as to agree that taxes on things people like, such as sugary drinks, don’t work very well if people don’t understand why they should have to pay more for them. If the potential benefits are not understood or valued – consumers may rebel. There are still enough politicians around who remember what happened in response to the Labour Government’s ‘black budget’ of 1958 that increased taxes on beer, cigarettes and petrol..
However, there is increasing evidence that the effect of tax on price has a role to play. A new study (in which Otago University’s professor Tony Blakely was a co-author) published recently in the journal Lancet Public Health “adds to the growing body of evidence that fiscal policy tools [taxes or levies] applied to sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) may benefit health, particularly child health, and may save costs for health systems”. Implications of the study for New Zealand are discussed by Tony Blakely in the Otago University’s Public Health Expert blog, December 16.
Meanwhile, a coalition led by the NZ Dental Association, supported by about a dozen non-government organizations, including the National Heart Foundation, Hapai te Hauora Tapui and the Public Health Association, has developed a new strategy that includes tax, but has a quite different starting point.
The consensus statement adopted by the Sugar-free Drinks Coalition starts with the need for consumers – individuals, families and communities – to be able to quantify the problem for themselves.
I think the problem of poor oral health and obesity among children are generally well understood. Both have lifetime health consequences, both are preventable and both impose avoidable costs on the health system.
Sugary drinks are cheap, readily available, widely advertised and the major source of sugars consumed by children and young people. Excessive consumption of sugary drinks is associated with dental caries, weight gain and obesity, so they must be an obvious target for change.
What is not so well understood is how much sugar is in our food and drink – and technical measures in grams per millilitre are not much help. The first step is simple: we need the information expressed in a familiar form – teaspoons.
The World Health Organization recommends a daily maximum of ten teaspoons of free sugar for kids – 3 teaspoons for littlies – and 12 for adults. A 600ml bottle contains about 16 teaspoons of sugar, and a regular 375ml can has about 10.
The strategy also includes some things Government needs to do to help. Mandatory teaspoon icons on packaging, regulation of marketing to children, a media campaign – and an excise tax – would all help.
But I think that starting with the humble teaspoon can empower individuals and families to make their own most important decisions to improve their health.
There are unacceptable levels of child poverty in New Zealand and not enough progress has been made to reduce the numbers says Warren Lindberg, CEO of the Public Health Association of New Zealand, in response to the release today of the Child Poverty Monitor 2016.
The Public Health Association, Health Promotion Forum and College of Public Health Medicine support calls by Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft for an urgent plan of action to cut the numbers of children living in poverty.
The new report shows that thousands of kiwi children are experiencing hardship due to poverty. At a time when our economy is growing it is shocking to learn that 14% of children are living in material hardship while 8% (85,000) of children are experiencing severe material hardship, living in households where they miss out on 9 or more essential items.
It is not fair that so many children living in our country have to go without the things every child should have a right to: warm, safe, healthy homes; access to medical care; good quality education and access to healthy food.
Children should not have to live in cold and damp homes which we know lead to higher rates of infectious disease such as rheumatic fever. They should not have to live in a car or in overcrowded conditions where they find it hard to do their homework. It is not fair that kids should miss out on medical care because there is no way for them to get to the doctor, yet that was the case for an estimated 26,000 children in 2015, while in that same period 197,000 children had an unmet primary health care need due to poverty.
There are lifelong and intergenerational consequences for children living in severe and prolonged poverty. They will grow up with no expectation of a better life because they have never known anything but hardship and have not had even their basic needs met.
The PHA, Health Promotion Forum and College of Public Health Medicine urge the government to honour its commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which it signed up to in 2015. SDG 1 is to end poverty in all its forms everywhere with a target of halving poverty by 2030. The rates of child poverty in New Zealand have stayed pretty much the same since 1994, which clearly indicates that a business as usual approach is not going to work. The PHA’s Ceo, Warren Lindberg, commented today that, “We’re pleased to note that the new Prime Minister has promised a Government that will ensure 'the benefits of growth are widely shared’.”
This statement is endorsed by:
• Warren Lindberg, CEO of the Public Health Association of New Zealand
• Felicity Dumble, President Elect of the New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine
• Sione Tu'itahi, Executive Director of the Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand
The Public Health Association of New Zealand is right behind the new Consensus Statement on sugary drinks being launched today at Brooklyn School by the New Zealand Dental Association.
Warren Lindberg, Public Health Association CEO, says all New Zealanders should know that children get a quarter of their daily sugar intake from sugary drinks.
“We know there’s a strong association between sugar consumption and both dental caries and obesity. One third of Kiwi children are overweight, and 29,000 children under the age of 14 had teeth removed in 2014/15 due to tooth decay”.
An average can of fizzy drink contains about nine teaspoons of sugar; the WHO recommends a daily maximum intake of nine teaspoons for kids.
The CEO of the Public Health Association, Warren Lindberg, said, “The new Consensus Statement, being launched today, rightly targets the fact that few of us have any idea of how much sugar is contained in our food and drink – and that technical measures in grams per millilitre are not much help for families”.
“There is no longer an argument about the health problems associated with obesity and oral health – especially in children”, says Lindberg. “Sugary drinks which have no health value are an obvious target for change.“
The PHA strongly supports the New Zealand Dental Association’s call for action to reduce harm caused by excessive consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks.
“We value the Dental Association’s leadership on this issues, and we’re proud to be joining with a dozen national organisations to issue this shared call to action.”
This article originally appeared on Community Scoop. It was written by Warren Lindberg, our CEO.
I generally sympathise with local bodies when the State imposes responsibilities without giving them the cash required to implement its bidding, but the drinking water crisis in Hawke’s Bay cries out for a greater sense of responsibility from Wellington. This world-class stuff-up has thrown a strong light on a long-neglected public health issue that has made a third of the population of Havelock North sick, and is forcing us to face the fact that what comes out of the kitchen tap can no longer be taken for granted.
The campylobacter in Havelock North’s water supply is not a new problem, just an inevitability that has been ignored. As John Pfahlert, Chief Executive of Water NZ, a not-for-profit representing the water industry, says, “It was always going to be a case of when, not if, a community in New Zealand would be struck down with campylobacter. Supplying a whole community with untreated water has always been a calculated risk.”
Drinking water standards are set by the Ministry of Health, while local authorities are responsible for supply and ensuring the quality of water for their populations. In this case it involves both the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, responsible for region-wide policy and infrastructure, and Hastings District Council, responsible for district-level services and supply. Both are charged by the Local Government Act to ensure the wellbeing of their population, including the requirement to “take all practical steps to comply with drinking water standards”. Compliance with the standards is monitored by the Ministry through the Medical Officers of Health employed by the local DHB. The Medical Officers are then responsible for tracing the source of any outbreak, and the DHB, of course, has to treat the victims of poor performance. In this case more than 5000 people seeking treatment from an already stretched health service.
It’s still not clear whether the source of contamination was a specific problem – possibly poorly maintained artesian bores in Havelock North – or a more difficult to trace seepage of animal faeces into the river and the water table.
But what also went wrong was the lack of clear accountability among the various agencies that share responsibility, but not enough to ensure the drinking water standards are robust, monitored and actually met. What’s needed is one agency that knows what’s required, has the resources, and an uncomplicated mandate to protect the public’s health – central Government.
Decisions about the risks and benefits of adding chlorine (and fluoride) to our drinking water need to be based on robust science, standardised procedures and competent health protection officers. Sharing out responsibility among a number of local agencies, each with different priorities and capabilities, is no way to protect something so fundamental to the health of the whole population.
The health system has the people capable of doing this job to a very high standard. It is a necessary job, mostly taken for granted – so long as no one falls ill. The Ministry of Health needs the certainty of knowing it has the mandate, and is not beholden to popular causes and political negotiations. And we deserve to know who’s in charge when something goes wrong.
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