Dr Paula King,1 Dr Donna Cormack,2,1 Dr Melissa McLeod,3 Associate Professor Ricci Harris,1 Dr Jason Gurney,3 (1Te Rōpū Rangahau Hauora a Eru Pōmare, University of Otago; 2Te Kupenga Hauora Māori, The University of Auckland; 3Department of Public Health, University of Otago).
As Māori academics, researchers and health professionals, we are extremely concerned about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our whānau and communities. We are also worried by the inadequate focus on Māori health equity in pandemic planning within the health and disability system, and in the whole-of-government ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. And we are troubled by the local proliferation of commentaries on COVID-19 within multiple fora that either intentionally ignore the existence of health inequities within our society, frame equity as an add-on to a substantial list of other ‘equally’ important principles, or demonstrate “nonperformativity”1 in reference to equity. Saying, ‘equity is important’ is different from actually making equity important via intentional actions to achieve it.
Nick Wilson, Richard Edwards, George Thomson, Andrew Waa, Janet Hoek
In this blog we review the case for the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Goal. We find that this is an ideal health goal given the large health gains, impact on reducing health inequalities, and savings in health costs that will follow from achieving it. Arguments against having such a goal are also considered.
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.
Dr George Disney, Dr Andrea Teng, Prof Nick Wilson, Prof Tony Blakely
There are striking inequalities in cancer incidence and mortality in NZ, by both ethnicity and socioeconomic status. In this blog, we introduce an interactive online tool that enables anyone from researchers, policy-makers, journalists and health practitioners to access high quality data on these vital, population-level health statistics. Examples we use include: massive declines in cardiovascular disease inequality, but still large inequalities such as widening gaps in mortality for diseases consistent with the obesity epidemic; and the fact that adults aged 25-44 years with no formal qualifications have had very little mortality decline in the last 30 years, begging the question “Why?”.
Associate Professor Nick Wilson
The recently published Report on the safety of water fluoridation (Royal Society of NZ & the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor) gave a green light for expanding water fluoridation in New Zealand given the scientific evidence for health benefit and safety, reduction in inequalities in oral health, and the cost-effectiveness. This blog post goes further to explore what else could be done to maximise the benefits of fluoridation for the oral health of New Zealanders.