Welcome to the New Zealand Ministry of Health

The Government's principal advisor on health and disability: improving, promoting and protecting the health of all New Zealanders

A stroke can happen any time

[Title: A stroke can happen at any time]

[Slide: The Ministry of Health went to Wellington Regional Hospital recently.

We were asking stroke export Dr Anna Ranta about the FAST awareness campaign.]

[Dr Anna Ranta sitting in her office at Wellington Regional Hospital]

My name is Anna Ranta. Im a stroke neurologist at Capital and Coast DHB, I'm also the National Clinic Leader for stroke for the Ministry of Health.

FAST stands for face, arm, speech and time.

[Animation showing examples of FAST - face, arm, speech and time]

Face, because with a stroke you can have a facial droop, you can have arm weakness in one side or the other and you can have talking problems with your speech. T stands for time to signal that if you have any of those symptoms or if you see somebody have some of those symptoms they need to call 111 straight away to get to the hospital.

[Dr Anna Ranta sitting in her office at Wellington Regional Hospital]

The time is important because we only have a number of hours to intervene when somebody has a stroke and the reason for that...

[Slide: As our interview is finishing Anna recieves an alert.]

I just noticed some reminder went off.

Do you need to attend to something?

[Slide: A stroke patient is on their way]

We've just had a FAST track done in ED, if I came through the back door?

[Shot of Dr Anna on the phone]

The ambulance is able to call ahead, so they'll notify us before the person has even arrived in the hospital and we can kick into gear and be ready and meet the person at the front desk.

[Shots of Dr Anna walking down to the Emergency Department]

And there are two general types of strokes. Either a ruptured blood vessel that causes blood flow into the brain or the blood clot that blocks blood flow to the brain. When the blood flow is interrupted to the brain, you don't get oxygen to the brain and the brain needs oxygen to function.

We really want people to get to us as soon as possible, ideally immediately, but we need to treat them within about 4 and half hours otherwise we've run out of time.

[Dr Anna Ranta to camera in the Emergency Department]

Ok, so we just got called for a FAST track stroke and the patient is due to arrive really now. We expect the ambulance to bring the patient in any second now.

[Shot of bed in Emergency Department]

The patient will be transferred to this bed and we will be monitoring the patient to see what their blood pressure is, address that and then very quickly move over to the CT scanner to take things from there.

[Shot of Dr Anna looking at a CT scan on the computer]

We're going to have to move out.

[Dr Anna Ranta sitting in her office]

The brain can survive for a few hours without the oxygen to that part of the brain, but once several hours go by it's just too late and so we cannot reverse the symptoms after that point.

[Shot of CT scan on the computer]

Also we know that every 15 minutes that we save actually makes a substantial difference as regards to the likelihood that people will be discharged back to their own home and independant of daily carers.

[Slide: The patient was successfully treated with clot busting medication

They went home 24 hours later.]

[Dr Anna Ranta sitting in her office]

All of these treatments we have in hospital are fantastic and it's great to see that we are increasing implementation, but of course the best way to prevent a stroke is to prevent it in the first place. And I would like people to exercise and to eat a healthy diet and to not smoke. And those are the most important things that everyone in New Zealand can do to, put us out of a job.

Stroke expert Dr Anna Ranta talks about the importance of the FAST campaign message - and the real difference it can make.

Know the signs of stroke - and what to do.


How immunisation works

Title: Immunisation and how it works

[Kids playing football outside]

[Voiceover] Immunisation is a simple and effective way to help protect children (and adults) against serious diseases.

By immunising your child, you give them the best start to a healthy future, and you protect your community by reducing the spread of disease.

[Slide showing chapters of the video - Immunisation and how it works, How your immunse system works, How immunisation works, Community immunity, Why it's important to immunise on time, every time, Vaccine safety]

[Slide - How your immunse system works]

[Dr Kiri Bird standing at a hospital reception desk]

Kia ora whanau, I’m Dr Kiri Bird.

Every day your body comes across many different types of germs.

Some of these can make you very sick.

[Animation show a child fighting off germs with their immune system]

Your body has a natural defence system, called the immune system, which helps fight off germs that can cause serious disease.

[Animation showing antibodies attacking germs]

One of the ways your body fights off germs is by making special antibodies that know what a particular germ looks like, and can find and destroy it.

The first time your body meets a new germ, it can take some time for your body to make these antibodies.

Until those germs are destroyed, you might get sick.

But later on, if you come across the same germ again, your body can remember it and fight it off before you get sick.

[Dr Kiri Bird standing at a hospital reception desk]

This is why once you’ve had a disease, you usually don’t catch it again because your body fights off the germ before you can get sick.

[Slide - How immunisation works]

Immunisation protects against diseases in the same way.

[Animation show how immunisation affects your immune system]

It gives your immune system a practice run with a broken-up or weakened germ so it won’t give you the disease.

Your body learns how to recognise those germs and is ready to fight them off before they can make you sick.

You may get a fever or a headache after you are given a vaccine.

This is a common response to the vaccine and should pass quickly.

If you’re worried at any time, talk with your doctor or nurse.

[Animation showing what happens once you've been immmunised and you come across the germs again]

Once you’ve been immunised, If you come across the same germ again, your body will remember it and fight off the germ before you get sick.

This is how immunisation protects against disease.

[Slide - Community immunity]

[Dr Kiri Bird sitting inside a doctor's clinic]

There’s another way that immunisation can help protect our whanau, and that’s by making sure that we don’t even come into contact with preventable diseases in the first place.

[Animation showing the differences between when only a few people are immunised disease is more likely to spread.]

[Voiceover] When only a few people are immunised, diseases can spread very quickly.

[Animation showing when a large amount of people in the community are immunised, the disease is less likely to spread]

When more people are immunised, diseases can’t spread as quickly – but are still able to spread.

But when most people are immunised, disease can’t spread through our community and so most people stay well.

There are always a few people in every community who are either too young to be immunised or have a weakened immune system, such as cancer patients.

These people can get very sick when they catch a disease, so it’s really important that everyone around them is immunised.

So, if enough people are immunised, the community as a whole can be protected.

This is called community immunity.

[Dr Kiri Bird sitting inside a doctor's clinic]

In New Zealand, measles outbreaks among teenagers and young adults are still common because many of them were not immunised as young children.

[Shots of various media stories reporting on the spread of whooping cough and measles]

[Voiceover] Diseases like whooping cough or measles can spread quickly.

If most of the people in a community are not immunised, these diseases can spread rapidly and lead to an outbreak.

Community immunity can help to prevent this risk.

[Dr Kiri Bird sitting inside a doctor's clinic]

When we choose to immunise, we not only protect ourselves, we protect our whanau, and our whole community.

[Slide - Why it's important to immunise on time, every time]

The National Immunisation Schedule sets out the best time to get immunised so that your child can be protected when they need it most.

For example, women need more protection against influenza while they are pregnant.

[Shot of Mother holding young baby]

Babies need to be protected as young as possible against whooping cough and other serious diseases.

[Slide show three babies - aged 6 weeks, 3 months and 5 months]

In New Zealand, baby’s first immunisations are due at 6 weeks, 3 months and 5 months.

Some vaccines are recommended at a slightly older age.

[Slide showing a 15 month old, 4 year old and 11 and 12 year old children]

At age 15 months, young children get immunised against measles and chickenpox, as well as boosters for some of their earlier vaccines.

[Slide showing all age groups of the diseases they need to be immunised for]

Boosters are important as they remind your immune system’s memory to keep protecting against harmful germs.

[Dr Kiri Bird sitting inside a doctor's clinic]

It’s important to immunise on time. Delaying immunisation can put your child at greater risk of catching a serious disease.

[Slide - Vaccine safety]

[Professor Swee Tan in a lab observing disease samples under microscope]

All vaccines used in New Zealand have been thoroughly tested to make sure they are safe and that they work well before they are approved, a process that can take many years.

Safety monitoring continues even after the vaccines are approved and being used by millions of people around the world.

[Dr Kiri Bird sitting inside a doctor's clinic]

That’s how we know the benefits of immunisation far outweigh any potential risk, and why immunisation is recommended by the Ministry of Health and health professionals.

[Voiceover] Protect your whanau, immunise on time.

Immunisation is the best way to protect against a number of serious diseases – it shows your body’s natural defence system how to fight off germs before they can make you sick. Check out our new video on the basics of how it all works.


New mental health initiatives announced

The Government has announced new mental health initiatives that take a social investment approach to preventing and responding to mental disorders in New Zealand. Find out more about the initiatives.


Mental health and addiction workers pay equity claim

Update on the Ministry of Health involvement in the pay equity claim for mental health and addiction workers. Read more.


Mental health services – where to get help

We all face challenges to our mental health at various times in our lives. The way we’re feeling can change how we think and how we deal with tough times.

Back to top