Dr Lindsay Robertson*
In our recently published work, we studied the impact of the NZ Government preventing new retail outlets from selling tobacco from 2020, while allowing existing retail outlets to continue selling it until they closed or relocated. The estimated outcome would be a 50% decrease in the total number of tobacco retail outlets by 2032. This blog puts these results into the context of tobacco control options for NZ.
Dr Richard Jaine, Dr Giorgi Kvizhinadze, Prof Nick Wilson, Prof Tony Blakely
There is reasonably strong evidence screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scans is effective at reducing lung cancer mortality. However, new research suggests it is highly unlikely to be cost-effective in NZ. We have just published the first NZ study to examine the cost-effectiveness of lung cancer screening in the journal Lung Cancer, and we estimate that it would cost NZ$154,000 per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) gained – even among heavy smokers . This means that gaining the equivalent of one year of life in perfect health from lung cancer screening comes with a price tag of about $150,000. This suggests that if we want to reduce the burden of lung cancer in NZ but still have to work within a finite health budget, we should consider more cost-effective means (e.g. enhanced tobacco control).
Prof Nick Wilson, Dr Jennifer Summers, Prof Michael Baker
The 1918 influenza pandemic began to kill New Zealanders 100 years ago today. Ultimately it killed 9000 NZ citizens and so is by far the largest natural disaster to hit this country. In this blog we reflect on this event and draw links with the present day pandemic risks (including from synthetic bioweapons). We highlight the importance of continuing to invest in public health infrastructure and pandemic preparedness and planning.
Prof Nick Wilson, Dr Cristina Cleghorn, Dr Nhung Nghiem, Prof Tony Blakely
The scientific case for lowering dietary salt intakes became a bit confused in recent years by studies which suggested that both low sodium (salt) intake and high sodium intake were associated with higher risk of death. But new research suggests that low sodium intakes are not associated with a higher risk of death and the results for low sodium intake in these other studies may be largely due to inaccurate measurement of sodium intake. So the scientific community can now more confidently recommend that governments progress interventions to reduce sodium levels in processed foods. This could substantially benefit health, reduce health inequalities and save health sector costs.
Tony Blakely, Andrea Teng, Sheree Gibb, Nhung Nghiem, Barry Milne, Andrew Sporle, Gabrielle Davie, Nevil Pierce, Ruth Cunningham, and on behalf of the Virtual Health Information Network
A key strategic advantage for NZ and research is our national routinely-collected datasets. This can generate new knowledge in academia, service delivery and policy. Conversely, NZ has some key barriers to overcome to make the best use of that data – most importantly, data systems infrastructure and research capacity. In this blog we consider these opportunities and barriers. We believe we are at a moment in time when a major centralized investment is required that will return dividends to NZ citizens and academics through better policy making and new knowledge discovery.