The Health and Independence Report is the Director-General of Health’s annual report on the state of public health in New Zealand. The 2016 report draws from a range of information sources to present a picture of the health of New Zealanders.
Chapter 1 (Our population) discusses our changing population which is growing, ageing and becoming more ethnically and regionally diverse. People’s life expectancy (how long we live) and health expectancy (how long we live in good health) are improving. This builds on a strong platform of health improvement over the past quarter century. Important challenges remain, including addressing inequalities of outcomes for key populations, further reducing premature mortality, increasing years spent in good health and improving care and support for people living with long-term conditions and disability.
Chapter 2 (Our health) describes how many of the major causes of ill health we are now experiencing are influenced by our wider social, economic and physical environment as well as biological and behavioural factors. Recent estimates indicate that over one-third of health loss is preventable. This means a healthy environment and healthier lifestyles have the potential to substantially reduce future ill health and premature mortality.
Chapter 2 also looks at the general health of New Zealanders. This year’s report includes a focus on ‘starting well’, and discusses aspects of health during pregnancy, infancy and the preschool years. The report also discusses the prevalence and impact of long-term conditions including cardiovascular disease (coronary heart disease and stroke), cancers, diabetes, mental illness and dementia.
Chapter 3 (Our direction) discusses the New Zealand Health Strategy. This strategy, released in April 2016, positions the health sector to respond to the changing nature of our population, our health and the dynamic environment we operate in. It sets a new vision for how the health system might evolve over the next 10 years. The report outlines a range of current initiatives that support the direction of the Strategy and deepen our understanding of the needs of our population so that over time, more New Zealanders live well, stay well, and get well.