Fit and well

Auckland City Harbour News - - Letters - PAUL RICHARDS Hob­sonville

The New Zealand health sys­tem should be re­named the sick­ness sys­tem be­cause it’s heav­ily geared to­wards help­ing peo­ple who are al­ready sick.

It is not strongly geared to pre­vent­ing sick­ness.

A quote to de­scribe the phi­los­o­phy used is that we place our am­bu­lances at the bot­tom of the cliff.

Even the term used by the gov­ern­ment – pre­ven­ta­tive health – is it­self highly con­fus­ing.

It’s clear that our hos­pi­tals al­ready can’t cope as quickly and ef­fi­ciently as they should with cur­rent work­loads.

Obe­sity is steadily in­creas­ing with one area of Auck­land – Coun­ties Manukau – stat­ing that 60 per­cent of men are headed to­wards type 2 di­a­betes.

When you con­sider that the in­crease in doc­tors and nurses is not keep­ing pace with needs, then con­sider that the age­ing baby­boomer pop­u­la­tion is the fastest-grow­ing pop­u­la­tion seg­ment, we need to have a rad­i­cal new so­lu­tion.

Our newly elected gov­ern­ment for 2008 should in­stead adopt a well­ness sys­tem and change their fo­cus.

The so­lu­tion is to en­cour­age most of the pop­u­la­tion to take per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity for stay­ing well.

Af­ter all, 80 per­cent of those in hospi­tal are there as a re­sult of poor and pre­ventable lifestyle habits.

The most sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on health can be achieved through daily ex­er­cise and healthy nu­tri­tion.

Planned ed­u­ca­tion can im­pact on nu­tri­tion.

Ki­wis could be di­rectly and strongly en­cour­aged to ex­er­cise reg­u­larly if re­warded in the pocket.

A pro­por­tion of what is in­vested to­wards a struc­tured ex­er­cise pro­gramme could be made a tax credit of say $500 a year.

Other coun­tries are al­ready do­ing this.

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