Healthy response to the ballot, please
Here’s a typical response on opening those orange envelopes which have been turning up over the past week. Mayor? Hmmm. Council? Yawn. District Health Board? Zzzzzz.
When it comes to local elections, we tend to think of DHBs as playing third fiddle in a two-piece orchestra. That’s if we think of them at all.
However, they do play a key role. The ballot paper deserves more than a cursory glance and consignment to the recycle bin.
Our DHBs are responsible for spending huge chunks of coinage. The Capital & Coast board, for example, receives more than $680 million in annual funding and serves 301,000 people.
Boards are charged with engaging with their communities, setting relevant priorities and ensuring their own specific needs are met.
Fluoridation, for starters, will be a key focus of this year’s DHB election, with the Government wanting health boards to take over responsibility for making this call.
It’s a divisive issue, spiced by allegations of misinformation from both sides, and should alone generate a surge in voting, assuming people bother to find our where candidates stand.
However, the boards make important calls all the time on a range of health issues, and can best do so if they fully represent their communities.
Last election, only 40 per cent of eligible voters bothered having a say on who the seven elected members should be.
That was actually better than the neighbouring Hutt Valley board where only 37 per cent voted. Shame on them.
Health is perhaps our most important asset and one we tend to value most when it comes under threat.
We care about accessing modern cancer drugs. We care about friends or neighbours having to wait in pain for years for elective surgery. We care about green prescriptions, smoking cessation and measures to counter obesity.
We should care about getting the best value from our taxes.
Let’s show how much we care by reading those candidate profiles and ranking them on the ballot paper. Turn the zzzzz into numbers.