Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith today announced the recipients of more than $5.7 million of funding to improve the management of long-term health conditions.
The contestable funding was awarded to three successful projects, all relating to the prevention and management of diabetes.
“Diabetes affects around six per cent of New Zealanders and their families,” says Dr Coleman.
“The Government understands the toll the disease takes on people’s lives. The management of this long-term condition is a major health challenge for the country.”
“Through this union of science and healthcare we hope to make inroads into reducing the toll of these diseases on people’s lives and in reducing the burden socially and economically,” says Mr Goldsmith.
Successful recipients are the University of Otago (Wellington) for two projects – a study into preventing type 2 diabetes by including probiotics and prebiotics in the diet, and a digital health initiative aimed at helping people prevent and manage diabetes using online tools.
Funding is also being allocated to the National Hauora Coalition to support a targeted programme aimed at improving outcomes for Māori living with diabetes.
The research fund, announced last year, is a joint partnership initiative between the Health Research Council of New Zealand, Ministry of Health, and the Healthier Lives National Science Challenge.
The Government's ongoing commitment to health research is demonstrated in the Budget 2016 announcement of an extra $97 million over the next four years for the Health Research Council.
Further details on the research fund is available on the Health Research Council of New Zealand website www.hrc.govt.nz.
Summary of the successful projects
Preventing type 2 diabetes with probiotics and prebiotics (PDP2)
Associate Professor Jeremy Krebs
University of Otago, Wellington
$1,800,000 Duration: 36 months
A quarter of New Zealanders have pre-diabetes, which is a condition that can progress to type 2 diabetes and cause significant long-term health problems. There is now research demonstrating that the microbes in our gut affect our health in many ways, including how our bodies process foods and sugars. We can modify our gut microbes by taking probiotic supplements (which contain live bacteria that give health benefits) and prebiotics (substances from foods which support gut microbes).
This study is a blinded randomised placebo-controlled trial to see if taking a probiotic supplement with either a standard cereal or a cereal enriched with a specific prebiotic called beta glucan for six months can improve glucose and fat levels in the blood of adults with pre-diabetes. In addition, this work will evaluate the cost effectiveness of the interventions and how to translate the study findings into clinical practice.
Innovative management of diabetes with a comprehensive digital health programme
Professor Diana Sarfati
University of Otago, Wellington
$1,600,000 Duration: 36 months
Six per cent of New Zealand adults have diabetes mellitus and one in four have pre-diabetes. Rates of both are rapidly increasing, and are higher among Māori and Pacific people. We have developed an innovative digital health programme which supports prevention and self-management of pre-diabetes and diabetes. The programme is delivered via web and mobile-based platforms. It integrates with primary care providers and uses peer support, health coaches, health tracking, and tools with engaging content to drive changes in behaviour. Initial pilot results showed that more than 70 per cent of pre-diabetics had normal blood glucose levels after four months on the programme.
We propose a group of studies, including a randomised controlled trial, to assess the clinical and cost effectiveness of this intervention in reversing pre-diabetes and improving self-management of diabetes, compared with usual care. We will explicitly assess the impact among Māori and Pacific people, and focus on translating findings into clinical practice.
Mana Tū: a whānau ora approach to long-term conditions
Dr Matire Harwood
National Hauora Coalition
$2,300,000 Duration: 36 months
Diabetes is a long-term condition in which there are significant ethnic and social disparities in prevalence and outcomes. There is huge scope to reduce diabetes inequalities. The complex nature of the condition means a comprehensive and sustained approach that tackles the wider determinants for causes, management and complications is required.
We propose to test Mana Tū – a programme co-designed with whānau, clinicians, health service planners and whānau ora providers to improve the impact of clinical and lifestyle interventions for whānau living with pre-diabetes and people with poorly controlled diabetes. Mana Tū deploys skilled and supported Kaimanaaki-whānau (KMs) in practices. The KMs use a mana whānau approach and work with general practice teams while being operationally supported by a central hub. The hub will co-ordinate broader community and social service support systems for whānau and provide training, programme design, and support within a rich data environment.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says World Cancer Day is an opportunity to focus on what more can be done to further improve cancer services.
“Tomorrow is World Cancer Day and it’s timely to think about family and friends who have been touched by cancer,” says Dr Coleman.
“While cancer is New Zealand’s leading cause of death, outcomes for people with cancer continue to improve. In 2011, 63 per cent of cancer patients survived five years after diagnosis, up from 57 per cent in 1999.
“For some cancers, including breast, prostate and melanoma, more than 80 per cent of patients live at least five years.
“Kiwis are receiving better, faster cancer treatment and more support during their care as a result of the Government’s $63 million faster cancer treatment programme.
“There are a number of new initiatives this year which will help to further improve early detection of cancer, and build on the faster cancer treatment programme.
“The national bowel screening programme begins in Wairarapa and Hutt Valley DHBs in July. Once fully implemented the programme will invite more than 700,000 people for screening every two years. In the early screening rounds, around 500-700 cancers are expected to be detected each year.
“A prostate cancer support tool will be available later this year to help men and their families make better decisions about testing and treatment options, and another support tool is being developed for primary care.
“There will be a focus on further improving radiation therapy treatment across the country through a set of actions set out in the Radiation Oncology Plan 2017–2021 which will be released early this year.
“There will also be a renewed focus on delivering innovative services to adolescents and young adults with cancer, supported by the Core Standards of Care for Adolescents and Young Adults which will be launched in April.
“A number of initiatives are also delivering good results. One big success has been the introduction of cancer nurse coordinators who are helping to reduce stress on more than 1,000 patients a month by streamlining the diagnostic and treatment process.
“They are working closely with over 30 psychologists and social workers across the country who are providing for the emotional and social support needs of patients.
“A $124 million funding boost for Pharmac in Budget 2016 has seen increased access to new medicines, including treatments for breast cancer, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and advanced melanoma.”
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says more stroke patients are receiving best-practice care with efforts to improve the delivery of stroke services across DHBs paying off.
“Around 9,000 people have a stroke each year in New Zealand. Early identification and treatment is crucial to reduce the likelihood of brain damage and lasting harm,” says Dr Coleman.
Dr Coleman visited Auckland DHB today and heard from clinical experts and a patient about a ground-breaking stroke treatment where blood clots are surgically removed.
“Around 90 New Zealanders have already benefited from this new technique called endovascular clot removal,” says Dr Coleman.
“This technique is world-leading best practice and is being offered across the three Auckland DHBs and Northland as a result of regional co-operation, as well as Capital & Coast and Canterbury DHBs.
“To help further drive improvements across the DHBs there are two stroke indicators which are reported on every three months.
“The first indicator looks at the number of eligible stroke patients receiving thrombolytic therapy which is where drugs are used to breakdown dangerous blood clots in the brain. This treatment is suitable for only a small minority of stroke patients.
“The latest figures show our rates are in line with international benchmarks with 7.9 per cent of eligible patients receiving this treatment. That’s up from 7 per cent six months ago and above the national target of 6 per cent.
“All DHBs now offer stroke thrombolysis, but it is not available 24/7 at some DHBs as it requires specialist level care.
“Capital & Coast DHB has now implemented a tele-stroke thrombolysis service to help support smaller DHBs in delivering this treatment. This involves neurologists in Wellington assisting colleagues in four regional hospitals by providing remote assessment, diagnosis and treatment.
“Over the course of a successful six month pilot, that ran from 1 June through 1 December 2016, 164 patients assessments have been carried out by Wellington-based neurologists. Around 25 per cent received clot busting medicines.
“The second indicator relates to the admission to an acute stroke unit which is happening in just over 77 per cent of cases, an increase from nearly 73 per cent six months earlier. The target of 80 per cent was achieved or exceeded by 12 of 20 DHBs.
“This shows that hospitals are also getting better at identifying stroke patients and moving them to specialist units quicker.”
Sport and Recreation Minister Jonathan Coleman welcomes the appointment today of one hundred volunteer Community Ambassadors for the Rugby League World Cup 2017.
“The tournament is shaping up to be a major event for New Zealand. Organisers are forecasting over 6,000 international visitors, who are expected to contribute around $4.8 million to our economy,” says Dr Coleman.
“The appointment of Community Ambassadors from across the country will help to ensure our co-hosting of rugby league’s biggest international tournament realises its full potential.
“In particular I’d like to acknowledge the appointment of Sir Peter Leitch as the Rugby League World Cup’s chief ambassador in New Zealand. Sir Peter is surely one of the country’s most vocal cheerleaders for the sport.
“Host regions can look forward to showcasing their local attractions to visitors as well as the economic boost the matches will provide.
“Having games in Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton and Wellington gives more fans than ever before the opportunity to attend international rugby league here in New Zealand, and for visitors to enjoy all our wonderful country has to offer.
“The tournament will be broadcast to more than 110 countries, providing a fantastic opportunity to showcase New Zealand to the world.
“New Zealand has a proud and successful track record of delivering world-class international events, and the staging of this tournament will further build on this.”
New Zealand is co-hosting the tournament with Australia and hosting partner Papua New Guinea. The opening game will be held in Melbourne on 27 October, with New Zealand hosting its first game at Mt. Smart in Auckland the following day between the Kiwis and Samoa. In total seven games will be held across four New Zealand cities.
The Community Ambassadors were announced at an event in Auckland today. The full tournament draw and further details are available on the Rugby League World Cup 2017 website: http://www.rlwc2017.com/
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has today appointed temporary Chairs to the boards of Canterbury and South Canterbury DHB.
The temporary appointments come after the Chair of both boards, Murray Cleverley, stood down while the State Services Commission conducts an inquiry into allegations former employees of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Agency used their Public Service positions to advance their private business interests.
Deputy Chair of Canterbury DHB, Sir Mark Solomon, and Deputy Chair of South Canterbury DHB, Ron Luxton, will act as Board Chairs of their respective DHBs until the inquiry is completed.
Notes to Editors
Sir Mark Solomon
Sir Mark is of Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Kuri descent and was the former Kaiwhakahaere (Chair) of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. Sir Mark sits on numerous commercial boards, and has played leadership roles in community, rūnanga, iwi and pan-Māori settings. Sir Mark was appointed Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2013, for services to Māori and business, and received an honorary Doctorate of Natural Resources from Lincoln University in 2015.
Ron comes from a pharmacy background spanning more than 35 years. As well as being Acting Chair of South Canterbury DHB, he serves as chair of their Community and Public Health Committee and a member of their Audit and Assurance Committee. He is also currently Chairman of the Aoraki MRI Charitable Trust.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says a new awareness campaign starts today to inform parents and caregivers of Year 8 boys and girls about the benefits of HPV immunisation.
“New Zealand is joining Australia and a growing number of other countries in providing free HPV immunisation to boys as well as girls,” says Dr Coleman.
“In Budget 2016 the Government invested an extra $124 million to enable Pharmac to further increase access to new medicines. Pharmac announced last July it was widening access to HPV and chickenpox vaccinations.
“HPV-related cancers cause more than 50 deaths in New Zealand each year, and most of these are preventable.
“A growing proportion of throat cancers are caused by HPV and they affect males at higher rates than females. Immunisation protects both males and females from most cancers caused by HPV.”
HPV immunisation is available free through most schools in Year 8 as part of the school based immunisation programme. The vaccines are also available through general practices to anyone aged from 9 to 26 years.
Other changes to HPV immunisation this year include a reduction in the number of doses for those aged 9 to 14 from three doses to two, spaced at least six months apart, and an updated vaccine that protects against the types of HPV that cause around 90 per cent of related cancers.
“Recent studies show that younger teens need fewer doses of the vaccine to get good protection,” says Dr Coleman.
“Older teens and young adults who have missed out on HPV immunisation can still catch up free, as the age of eligibility has been extended to 26.”
About 65 per cent of girls who were in Year 8 in the last couple of years have been fully immunised against HPV. This has been steadily increasing in recent years – just over half of girls who were eligible for the programme when it first began have been immunised.
The awareness campaign to support HPV immunisation for boys and girls starts today and continues through February and March as school-based vaccination programmes seek consent around this time.
The campaign includes radio, online video, print and outdoor advertising.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says more parents are sending their children to school for the first time this week knowing their B4 School Check has picked up any potential health or development needs at an early stage.
“The B4 School Checks help to give children the best start at school by identifying and addressing any health or development problems in time to connect them with the appropriate support services,” says Dr Coleman.
“The B4 School Check programme continues to perform well, reaching 92 per cent of all four-year olds for the second year in a row since 2014/15.
“In 2015/16 uptake of the B4 School Check was also 93 per cent among those living in high deprivation areas.
“All families are encouraged to participate in the free health check. B4 School Check providers are working with other services such as early childhood education, and focusing on hard to reach communities to encourage uptake.”
Children should get the B4 School Check as close to their fourth birthday as possible, to give families time to work with any additional support services they might need, for example immunisations that protect children against measles and other diseases that can spread at school.
Introduced in 2008, the B4 School Check is the final core Well Child/Tamariki Ora check. Checks are provided through a range of community health services and include hearing, eyesight, height, weight, oral health assessments, and comprehensive health and development questionnaires.
The most common issues identified in the check are vision and hearing difficulties. In 2015/16, 2874 children were identified with a possible hearing loss and referred for treatment or further assessment.
In the six months to the end of December 2016, 29,796 four-year-olds were screened, an increase on the 29,612 screened in the same period in 2015.
The Raising Healthy Kids target was introduced in 2016 and aims to ensure that through the B4 School Check, kids and their families are put in touch with primary healthcare professionals who can check for any clinical risk associated with obesity, encourage families to take action and monitor growth.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says efforts to increase our deceased organ donations and transplant rates have resulted in a record number being carried out in 2016.
Organ Donation New Zealand figures show there were a total of 61 deceased organ donors in 2016, a 69 per cent increase over the past four years.
From the 61 donors 181 organs were transplanted, a 57 per cent increase over the past four years.
“Organ transplantation is a life-saving treatment and for people with organ failure it’s often the only option available,” says Dr Coleman.
“Decisions by families of deceased donors and by living donors, together with the compassion and hard work of staff means that more and more patients are receiving transplants.”
Despite the record numbers, the Government still has ambitions to grow the rate further.
“The Government has a comprehensive work programme to increase organ donation rates,” says Dr Coleman.
“In the past four years we’ve provided an additional $8 million to increase support and education for hospital staff, fund donor liaison co-ordinators, and help overcome cultural barriers to donation.
“The Ministry of Health continues to work with the sector to finalise the deceased organ donation strategy. The strategy looks to strengthen national coordinating arrangements, as well as looking at effective ways for hospitals to identify potential donors and discuss donation with families.
“The Compensation for Live Organ Donors Bill, brought by MP Chris Bishop, was passed by Parliament in November last year.
“The legislation helps to remove the financial deterrent to becoming a live organ donor.
“The Ministry is currently developing systems and processes to meet the Act’s provisions, with the law due to come into effect before the end of this year.”