Hauora

 

Aotearoa Youth Declaration is an annual conference for High School Students which connects young people with government policy. Participants work in Focus Groups to develop policy statements that represent their views and priorities on a range of subjects. The statements below were drafted by the participants of the Hauora Focus Group, and approved by the participants at the Conference.

 

1.

We encourage the Government to the Te Whare Tapa Whā model at the forefront of policy considerations. A holistic approach is required to hauora and well-being to ensure equitable outcomes and reduce potential stigma around service utilisation.

2.

Mental illness touches many across New Zealand society, particularly youth, the elderly, LGBTQIA+, and other vulnerable groups. The Government has a key role in funding and providing mental health services. We want to see equity in care and recognition that mental health is of equal importance to physical health.

3.

We strongly urge the Government to address youth mental health through all means available. In particular we would like to see the implementation of:

  1. In-school, targeted mental health education to equip students with tools and skills to recognise mental illness, cope, and remove stigma around mental health;
  2. Yearly mental health check-ups by external mental health professionals in schools.
4.

We believe drug use and addiction is a hauora issue as opposed to a justice issue. We recommend that drug use is decriminalised, while its production and distribution remains a criminal offence. In addition, we urge increased funding and support in rehabilitation for victims of drug abuse.

5. Obesity is widespread in New Zealand, and we see diet as key to the problem and solution. We recommend that the Government:

  1. Encourage and support community vegetable gardens;
  2. Remove GST from fresh fruits & vegetables;
  3. Implement a limited tax on certain products high in sugar;
  4. Regulate food options available in school canteens; and
  5. Include compulsory healthy food and lifestyle education in school curricula.
6. We believe advertising contributes to unhealthy behaviours and cultures in society. To reduce these effects, we call on the Government to:

  1. Ban advertisements for alcoholic beverages in public spaces and media; and
  2. Increase advertising regulations for unhealthy and harmful foods, substances, and practices.
7. We believe the right to bodily autonomy should be respected for all individuals and supported by our institutions. We urge the Government to remove abortion from the Crimes Act 1961, and provide easier access to abortion and post-abortion support, for people of all socioe-conomic backgrounds, through:

  1. Greater information regarding options;
  2. Better physical access to facilities; and
  3. Expanding eligibility criteria.
8. We think the current Health Star Rating system doesn’t go far enough and would like the government to take steps to ensure that:

  1. Foods high in saturated fat, sugar or sodium cannot receive a high health star rating;
  2. Foods that are speci cally marketed to children receive and present health star ratings on all packaging;
  3. Companies can’t claim high ratings based on mixing their products with something more nutritious.

 

An enormous thanks to the Focus Group participants, the Facilitators – Kevin and Ayush, the Conference Organising Committee, and the Event Sponsors.

 

Download the 2018 Youth Declaration

 

Healthcare

 

Aotearoa Youth Declaration is an annual conference for High School Students which connects young people with government policy. Participants work in Focus Groups to develop policy statements that represent their views and priorities on a range of subjects. The statements below were drafted by the participants of the Hauora Focus Group, and approved by the participants at the Conference.

 

1.

We believe that the tikanga principle whanaungatanga should be embodied by the New Zealand Healthcare system. This can be achieved by:

  1. Fostering meaningful relationships between Primary Health Organisations (PHO) and the communities with shifting demographics;
  2. District Health Board conducting their financial procedures with transparency.
2.

We recognise the tikanga principle utu to acknowledge the contribution registered Nurses have made towards New Zealand society. We advocate for a complete review of the working conditions of Nurses. We want to see a more equitable and safe working environment for nurses with reducing working hours and increased pay that is proportional to workload.

3.

We call for an increase in funding for grassroots medical non-governmental organisations within New Zealand, as acknowledgement of their effective initiatives. We would like to see incentives for more non-governmental organisations to be established that can give aid to the most disenfranchised communities.

4.

We recognise that, under the current financial framework, District Health Boards cannot address the current range of issues faced by our generation. We urge more financial provisions are made, including:

  1. Fully funded charitable emergency ambulance organisations;
  2. Subsidised Mental Health Services for over 18.
5.

We reaffirm the responsibility of the Crown in protecting the interests and health of tangata whenua, under Article 3 of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. To prevent disparities within the healthcare system, we call for increased attention to minority groups who are vulnerable to preventable diseases and increased subsidies for non-communicable disease screening and treatment.

6.

We think our current legal, political and medical frameworks cannot tackle the exponential growth of illegal drug use within New Zealand. We suggest illegal drug use is decriminalised and Supervised Consumption Facilities are introduced in affected areas in New Zealand.

7. We emphasise the importance of accessible medication, especially for those who are heavily reliant on a specific treatment. Therefore we call for the New Zealand Government to create policies that both:

  1. Prevent the monopolisation of the pharmaceutical market from private financial interests;
  2. Allow for more research for new alternative treatments such as medical cannabis.
8.

We stress the need for more accessibility to gender reassignment surgeries and hormone therapy for the transgender community of Aotearoa. We would like to avoid harm to individuals seeking cheaper alternatives, in countries such as Thailand, who may receive services from surgeons without professional qualifications.

 

An enormous thanks to the Focus Group participants, the Facilitators – Jarrod and Uma, the Conference Organising Committee, and the Event Sponsors.

 

Download the 2018 Youth Declaration

 

The Health Crisis in Yemen

Universal Health Cover: everyone, everywhere.

This is the 2018 World Health Day theme. On 7 April, World Health Organisation calls upon states and individuals alike to strive towards this idea. There seems to be something distinctly modern about discussing health in terms of ‘universalness’. Modernity means the development of medicine, technology, transportation, communication. When innovation is peaking out at every corner, we begin to believe the tools at our finger tips are greater than any problem. No distance too great, no crisis too big.  

Yet there is a danger in focusing too much on the visible and tangible realities we see in developed nations. These aren’t the realities experienced by all. And it’s ultimately what context we live in that determines the level of health achievability.

Security Council Considers Situation in Yemen
27 February 2018 UN Photo/Loey Felipe

Yemen is a country so far off the spectrum of our daily lives that the average Kiwi has probably spared it little thought. It is a country that is dealing with a mammoth health crisis – a cholera outbreak literally unimaginable in the safety of New Zealand. 21 December 2017, the International Committee of the Red Cross announced the number of suspected cases had surpassed 1 million. In about a year, Yemen overtook the previous record held by Haiti (690,575 cases in the three years following the 2010 earthquake) and thus became the worst Cholera outbreak in recorded history.

The response by non-government organisations like the Red Cross have resulted in relatively high survival rates, with the death toll at approximately 0.2-0.3%. The success of medicine and organisation does not undermine the reality that this is a completely preventable disease. It is, in the words of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, a ‘medieval disease’, one that should be relegated to the history books. Cholera is transmitted by contaminated food or water, meaning any nation with decent sanitation standards will likely never see a case. According to a Red Cross statement last year, “more than 80% of the population” of Yemen lacked the basic necessities of clean water, food, or health care. In addition to this, the rainy season is due to hit in April, which WHO warns will inflame the cholera epidemic.

What tipped one of the already poorest Arab-nations into further suffering was the outbreak of war. Since 2015, civil war has engulfed Yemen with dangerously powerful outside players aggravating the chaos. The fighting is between a Saudi-led coalition and Iranian-allied Houthi rebels, but it’s ultimately civilians who are losing. The UN estimates 3 million people have been displaced from their homes, with 8 million being on the brink of famine. UNICEF recently asked for $350 million to feed the starving number. A tiny number compared to the $1 billion worth of weapons that the US plans to give Saudi Arabia, despite Amnesty International pointing to the “extensive evidence” that this arms flow from Saudi had “resulted in enormous harm to Yemeni civilians.”

All of this is not to say that universal health coverage shouldn’t be the aim, as everyday steps are taken to move us closer to this end goal. However, in this pursuit we cannot isolate health from other factors – social, economic, political – that all play a role in shaping lives. In that sense, we shouldn’t take for granted the stability that allow us to live healthy lifestyles, or forget those who aren’t so lucky.

By Rachel Buckman