Period Drama: How to Address Period Poverty in Aotearoa

Wednesday, October 26th, 2022 | cooju60p | 1 Comment

Claire Marsh*

Having periods can be bloody hard work, but for some people they present additional difficulties because products like tampons and pads are priced out of reach. Period poverty impacts Kiwis everyday and is often an unseen problem. Period products are now available for free in schools in Aotearoa, but what more can be done?

Image by Natracare from Unsplash Continue reading

Politicians in Aotearoa NZ live longer than other Kiwis and the gap keeps widening

Tuesday, October 11th, 2022 | cooju60p | No Comments

Prof Nick Wilson, Dr Jennifer Summers*

A just published study examined the lifespan of politicians in 11 high-income democratic countries – including Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ). The NZ politicians were found to live at least 5 years longer than the general NZ population (age and gender matched) and this gap has been growing since 1950. One of the likely reasons is the lower smoking rate of NZ politicians compared to the rest of the population. Perhaps it is time for NZ politicians to share the lifespan benefits of their smokefree lives – by ensuring that the current smokefree legislation before Parliament is passed in full?

Image from Wikimedia Commons

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An Official Inquiry into the Covid-19 Pandemic Response – It’s Time and it’s Vital

Thursday, September 22nd, 2022 | cooju60p | 3 Comments

Prof Nick Wilson, A/Prof George Thomson, Dr Jennifer Summers, Prof Michael Baker*

The Government has acknowledged the need for a formal review of the Covid-19 pandemic response. In this blog we explain how it is now time to announce the process and timetable for such an official inquiry. We note that all sudden mass fatality events with 10+ deaths since 1936 in Aotearoa NZ have resulted in an official inquiry. Ensuring an inquiry has lasting usefulness will depend on the depth and scope of the terms of reference, taking a forward-looking and depoliticised approach. Effective follow-up of recommendations through legislation, active implementation, and enforcement by Government will also be required. (See here a very short video summary of this blog, and here for a longer video.)

Figure 1: Photograph of 440 students at Wellington College to symbolically represent the worst day for deaths from the 1918 influenza pandemic in NZ – a pandemic that was followed by a valuable official inquiry in 1919. Photo by Luke Pilkinton-Ching, University of Otago Continue reading

Concluding the Public Health Solutions Series 

Thursday, September 15th, 2022 | cooju60p | No Comments

Over the last five weeks, Public Health Expert blog has published ten invited blogs on the best public health interventions the Government can put in place to reduce pressure on the health system.  

Photo by Luke Pilkinton-Ching of University of Otago

As highlighted in the media this week, the health system “remains under massive strain” and with the relaxing of covid rules this issue is unlikely to ease in the near future. The ongoing demands of Covid-19, long covid and deferred routine care will continue to place untenable pressure on the health system. A health system which is also experiencing health workforce shortages. It is easy to see how this ongoing strain on the health system will lead to worsening health and widening health inequities. Policies that are designed to prevent ill health and reduce health inequities are more important than ever. 

This Public Health Expert blog series has illustrated that there is much we could do to reduce the demand for healthcare in Aotearoa. These blogs have presented evidence of policies that can improve overall health and wellbeing with impact in the short to medium term. They have outlined policies that affect alcohol, unhealthy food and tobacco consumption, transport behaviour, access to adequate housing, injury prevention, mental health, cancer and infectious diseases with one blog focused on policies for children 

This is a broad view of public health and provides dozens of complementary policies for the Government to consider. Policies identified by the authors that would have immediate impacts on demand for healthcare include low traffic neighbourhoods; applying pandemic infrastructure to address other infections; lifting income support; reformulation of processed food; improving building standards; drug and alcohol legislation reform, alcohol taxes, and policies included in the Smokefree Bill, among others. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has illustrated that the Government can act quickly and decisively in a crisis. The Omicron peak has passed and it is now time to refocus on public health policies that prevent wider ill-health, reduce inequities and preserve our healthcare system and workers. 

Finally, we wanted to thank all the authors who enthusiastically contributed to this blog series, to Luke Pilkinton-Ching and others for the images used and to Julie Cooper for all her work getting these blogs published. 

Co-editors: Cristina Cleghorn and Caroline Shaw

Dementia: Update on causes and prevention, including the role of COVID-19

Tuesday, September 13th, 2022 | cooju60p | 3 Comments

Prof John Potter* 

Dementia is steadily increasing worldwide with major individual, family, societal, and economic consequences. This long-read blog details how, although treatment is currently largely ineffective and aspects of the underlying pathophysiology unclear, there is good evidence that much of it is preventable. In particular measures overlap with those for: preventing cardiovascular disease and diabetes (e.g., diet, physical activity, control of obesity); preventing head injuries (e.g., from falls and traffic injuries); advancing alcohol control; and, it is becoming increasingly clear, preventing respiratory infections (e.g., vaccination against influenza and COVID-19).  

Image by Maria Magdalens via Wikimedia Commons Continue reading