The Health and Independence Report 2008 combines the Minister's report to Parliament on progress on implementing the New Zealand Health Strategy with the Director-General of Health's report to Parliament on the state of public health.
This report provides a helpful snapshot of the progress being made in improving the health of New Zealanders, reducing inequalities in health, and increasing participation and independence – the overarching goals of the New Zealand Health Strategy and the New Zealand Disability Strategy.
Significant gains have been made in both health status and disability support services.
- Perhaps the most remarkable headline indicators are the significant increases in life expectancy, which has increased by 3.7 years for males and 2.5 years for females in the last decade.
- Another key finding of this report is the significant reduction in adult smoking, which indicates that New Zealand’s comprehensive tobacco control programme has led to a significant decline in smoking between 2002 and 2007, especially among Maori. This is a good example of the Government delivering on its commitment to reducing health inequalities.
Case studies highlighted in the report indicate the vitality and commitment of community groups that lead and facilitate projects, and ways forward for local services and national initiatives. For example, the Lowdown website, launched by the Ministry in December 2007, is world leading in its use of technology for educating and helping people to feel comfortable about seeking help for depression.
This report also contains results from the first year of Health Targets, showing significant improvements in harm from tobacco use, mental health and avoidable hospitalisations - but less improvement in diabetes care and healthy eating.
Quality Improvement Committee
The final section in this year’s report describes the purpose of the newly established Quality Improvement Committee (QIC). The committee provides leadership and shared learning environments to facilitate collaboration between DHBs and add impetus to the adoption of quality innovations across the health sector.
Additional statistical information is provided as an electronic appendix to the report. This appendix includes workforce information and health system throughput data.