Dr Andrea Teng, Prof Tony Blakely, Prof Michael Baker, Prof Diana Sarfati
In this Blog we discuss our recently published study that shows that infection from the bacteria Helicobacter pylori is the major driver of stomach cancer inequalities borne by Māori and Pacific peoples in NZ. We also discuss a possible next step which could be for one DHB to pilot a ‘test and treat’ screening programme that seems likely to help reduce such inequalities.
Professor Tony Blakely and Professor Alistair Woodward
In this blog we review the latest update by the Ministry of Health on how much of NZers life expectancy can be expected to be in good health. The good news? We are both living longer, and living longer in good health. The bad news? According to this report, the percentage of our lives with some dependency due to poor health is increasing. And there are marked inequalities in healthy life expectancy. This sort of analysis, as hard as it is to get right, is important – as a society we do not want to just live longer, but live longer in good health. However, we have concerns about the accuracy of this Report, and critique it in this blog.
Professor Tony Blakely
Yesterday we published a paper in PLoS Medicine that estimates the health gains, health inequality and health system cost impacts of ongoing annual 10% increases in tobacco tax. In this blog I outline the key findings of this paper, and why I think this paper is important. I also reflect on my 8 year journey from laying the foundations for this paper to its actual publication, the realisation of a vision of epidemiology informing policy.
Associate Professor Nick Wilson
There is no doubt that NZ needs to keep addressing ethnic inequalities in health as an important priority. Nevertheless, gender inequalities may also be worth some consideration given that NZ men have lower life expectancy than women by four years. This blog summarises key data and considers the major risk factors determining poorer male health. It then discusses if there is a plausible case for shifting more of the available health resources towards improving male health.
Figure: Years of life lived in good and poor health (based on data in: Ministry of Health 2013)
Professor Tony Blakely, Associate Professor Nick Wilson
Smoking rates have fallen in the 2013 Census compared to the 2006 Census (from 20.7% to 15.1% in adults aged 15+). The results generally fit with other evidence and are good news for health in NZ. And late today Tariana Turia has announced that rates for Māori have fallen nearly 10 percentage points from 2006 to 2013, or from 42.2% to 32.7%. Which is fantastic news.
This blog considers the results in more detail (for all ethnic groups combined, as Māori data is not yet on the Statistics NZ website), and asks what else could be done to accelerate progress towards a smokefree nation.