Written by Emma Collins
New Zealand is a wonderful place to live. We have a beautiful country with plenty of space, wonderful educational opportunities, and a stimulating environment. An image of New Zealand is often projected internationally as being ‘clean’ and ‘green’. By international standards we are also considered to have good health services. Although often in the media we see reports to contradict this, when compared with other countries around the world, our public health service is pretty good. However, we could be doing a lot better, as the articles in this edition of the School of Nursing Journal attest to.
There are some aspects of health where New Zealand is not shinning, where internationally, we are doing poorly. Where our whanau and communities are suffering and where health services are not contributing as well as they should be. Some of these anomalies in the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders are highlighted in this journal.
Childhood obesity is a significant health issue worldwide, with alarming statistics. The World Health Organisation (2017) states that obesity has tripled worldwide since 1975, and that this relates to significantly poorer health outcomes. Zoe Dobbs, Charlotte Paterson and Rachel Miller all discuss in this journal childhood obesity and the significance of this to children in New Zealand. Zoe Dobbs and Charlotte Paterson in particular discuss how multifaceted and complex obesity is and that there is no straightforward way to address this issue. Zoe Dobbs also goes on to say that nurses, in particular Public Health nurses, are particularly well placed to work with whanau and communities to being to address this health challenge. Charlotte Paterson explores the very complex link between socioeconomic status and childhood obesity. This can be challenging and confronting. Rachel Miller states that sugar drinks are particularly responsible for contributing to the obesity epidemic. Charlotte Paterson discusses the Before School check and how the Ministry of Health has put some initiatives in place to address this, but perhaps not enough. Rachel Miller discusses further that childhood obesity is a political issue for New Zealand and needs to be addressed at a governmental level.
New Zealand also has poor rates internationally with organ donation, as discussed by Zoe Hancox. This author states that New Zealand has some of the lowest rates of organ donation in the developed world, and that we should move to an ‘opt out’ system. This author also points out that this discussion is going to become much more prominent with the ageing population and general New Zealand population growth.
The mental health of our youth is a topic of growing concern in New Zealand, and once again we are not doing as well as we could be in this area, as discussed in this journal by Kendal Taiawa and Sinead O’Brien. Both authors state that New Zealand has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. This needs to be addressed through governmental dedication to significantly reducing this.
New Zealand women have some of the highest rates of breast cancer in the world, as highlighted by Hannah Beadle. While New Zealand is considered to have a first class breast screening service, we are not doing enough to ensure our women are screened and treated in a timely fashion.
Rheumatic fever has been a significant health issue for New Zealand children for many years now, and continues to be a concern for our whanau and communities, as discussed by Olivia Lewis. This author asks the question why – why does New Zealand have such alarmingly high rates, and she explores the literature to answer this question.
In conclusion, while New Zealand is often seen internationally as a great place to live, when we look at some individual health issues, there is a lot to consider. The government needs to look at all of these health issues that are discussed in this journal, and work to address these concerns. This edition of the School of Nursing journal is a call to action for policy makers and funders, to allocate funding to areas of greatest need, some of which are very well highlighted in this journal.
School of Nursing Journal
World Health Organisation. (2017, October). Obesity and Overweight. Retrieved from the World Health Organisation website: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/