We are all getting older, but some of us (according to the Minister of Health) are getting older much faster than others

“Older” New Zealanders have been defined for policy purposes in a press statement that emerged from the office of Health Minister David Clark at the weekend.

And guess what?  Being “older” depends not on when you were born but on your  ethnicity, which is something we define for ourselves.

A distinction between “older” Maori and Pacific people, compared with the rest of the country’s “older” people,  was drawn at much the same time as the government was affirming its  funding of another race-based programme.  The 2020 Budget will include support in the mental health domain for services by Māori for Māori.

But what’s going on with “older” New Zealanders and the way they are being officially defined?

At Point of Order, we were fascinated by the focus on the word “older” (older than what?) rather than “old” (although we agree this, too is problematic).

Then we examined the fine print of the announcement of new funding ($3.5 million) for  organisations supporting vulnerable groups to provide additional mental health and wellbeing support.  And we learned that –

  • Most  of us are “older” at age 70; and
  • Some of us are “older” at 50.

Continue reading “We are all getting older, but some of us (according to the Minister of Health) are getting older much faster than others”

The D-G should be chuffed after being praised by Ardern – now let’s see how hard the Minister is cuffed …

Prime  Minister  Jacinda  Ardern made a  point of  thanking  the Director-general of  Health, Dr  Ashley  Bloomfield, for his service over the Covid-19 lockdown.  She described  working with the health official “as a real honour”.

I consider NZ to be very lucky to have a public servant of Dr Bloomfield’s calibre leading the health response. His background in public health has meant I consider NZ to be among those countries who are a lucky to have the expertise in leading the response: one that considers the health and wellbeing of NZers in every respect.

It’s a tribute most folk  think  well deserved,  coming  as  it  did   on  the   last  day  of  level four  of the  lockdown.   And  Bloomfield has  earned  international  acclaim. Continue reading “The D-G should be chuffed after being praised by Ardern – now let’s see how hard the Minister is cuffed …”

Cabinet’s challenge is to strike the right balance between halting contagion and getting Kiwis back to work

Finance Minister Grant Robertson trots out the phrase “go hard, go early”  in the battle against  Covid-19,  as  often as he used to declare  the  underlying fundamentals of  the  NZ  economy  are  “strong”.

Meanwhile   Health Minister  David  Clark   says   responding to  Covid-19   is a  “marathon,  not a  sprint”.

But  New Zealand  didn’t  “go early”.   The  Ministry  of   Health  on  January  24,  the  day after China  locked down  the  huge  city of  Wuhan because of the  outbreak of the disease,  said the  likelihood of a  sustained outbreak in  NZ  is  “low”.

It maintained that  line for  a month.  There was no  visible sign of the  ministry calling on ministers to scale up  stocks of relevant equipment, take precautions in retirement  homes,   or   increase the  number of Intensive Care Unit beds  and ventilators. Continue reading “Cabinet’s challenge is to strike the right balance between halting contagion and getting Kiwis back to work”

A united front against Covid-19 is all very well, but it shouldn’t isolate the Ardern govt from hard questioning

As  the  Covid-19 crisis  deepens, the  country  needs  unity, not politics as  usual:  so  says  the  PM  Jacinda  Ardern.

Repeating  a  theme  she had expressed  in a speech the previous   day, she told  Parliament  on  Wednesday:

There are moments in our history where it’s not business as usual, where New Zealanders expect us to come together”, 

 “We are a nation that has been shaped because of our experiences, and they often have been tough, harsh, and unpredictable. That is when New Zealanders are at their best. That is when we rally: when we look after one another, when we care for the most vulnerable. So my final message is this to New Zealanders: be strong but be kind—we will be okay”. Continue reading “A united front against Covid-19 is all very well, but it shouldn’t isolate the Ardern govt from hard questioning”

Ministers enthuse at their economic prowess but polls suggest the public recognises a failure to tackle poverty

Government  ministers   are  exulting  over  how the  NZ  economy is performing—  and  their  own work  in  making it stronger.

David  Clark,  standing in  for  Grant  Robertson in Parliament on Tuesday, rejoiced at  how  solid the  “underlying  fundamentals of the  NZ economy are”.  He said the government  accounts for the June  year   showed how the coalition  had achieved  “strong financial results,  while also making significant  investments in well-being and infrastructure”.

Robertson,  singing from  the  same   songbook, celebrated NZ’s economic strength and resilience being recognised in a major update on the state of the global economy.

The IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook  shows   NZ’s  growth   forecasts   have held  steady  at  2.5%  in 2019, rising  to 2.7%   next year, against  the 1.7%  for the  rest of  the so-called  “Advanced Economies”. Continue reading “Ministers enthuse at their economic prowess but polls suggest the public recognises a failure to tackle poverty”

Failure to lift the wellbeing of our public health service helps explain slippage in Labour’s poll support

Diabetes amputations  top 1000” :  so ran a headline in  the  NZ  Herald over a  report  on  what   is becoming  one of the  public health disasters  in this   country.

Public health  is the  science  and art of preventing  disease, prolonging  life and promoting health  through organised  efforts of  society, says Professor Sir David  Skegg, one of  NZ’s most respected  epidemiologists.

Unfortunately NZ’s performance  in this is even less adequate  than its treatment services”.

He cites   weak leadership and a  lack of  political  will as fundamental problems  for public health in  NZ. Continue reading “Failure to lift the wellbeing of our public health service helps explain slippage in Labour’s poll support”

Setting a suicide-reduction target might have been detrimental to the govt’s wellbeing

The headline on a statement released from the PM’s Office on the eve of the official release of the Wellbeing Budget tells us the government is Taking mental health and addiction seriously.

To demonstrate this, the government has accepted, accepted in principle, or agreed to further consideration of 38 of the 40 recommendations in the report of the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction.

This raises an obvious question:  which two recommendations have been rejected?

The press statement gives the answer:

  • The Directing the State Services Commission to report on options for creating a ‘locus of responsibility’ for social wellbeing within Government; and
  • Set a target of 20% reduction in suicide rates by 2030.

Continue reading “Setting a suicide-reduction target might have been detrimental to the govt’s wellbeing”