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Have a healthy new year: 2017 prescriptions for reducing sickness

Opinion Piece

There is a strong message for the Gisborne community in comments made for the New Year by Hauora Tairawhiti chairman David Scott who was outlining his thoughts for 2017. Mr Scott’s hope was that all people in our region will continue with the growing understanding that the best way to reduce our very sick population is to take more responsibility for our own health.

Mr Scott’s priorities are concise and completely relevant: eating healthy foods, not smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, drinking fewer sugary drinks, daily exercise and regular health checks. These are ways that assist us to have better health as well as the potential to live longer and happier lives.

We hope this year we will finally complete the building of our new Medical Day Unit and open this facility for the benefit of our community, he says.

Also, that we can continue to work in close partnership with both the Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou and Te Runanga o Turanganui a Kiwa to greatly improve the poor health statistics of the 46 percent of the population in our region who are Maori.

As would be expected from someone with his long experience in health governance, David Scott sees the problems clearly.

Overcoming the disastrous health statistics for Maori that have seen this district sitting at the bottom of national rankings is obviously a major priority. Maori continue to have worse health and to die younger than others.

A report commissioned by Ngati Porou Hauora last year said Maori living on the East Coast were in “a perilous state of health”. Providing health services for such a geographically widely dispersed population is a massive challenge. The board faces an unending financial battle with rising costs for many medical procedures and growing demand for them. Every year it has to fight surpluses from spinning out of control.

Despite everything, the board and Gisborne Hospital continue to serve their people well. Following Mr Scott’s simple prescription would, however, greatly help to make that job easier.