Healthy re­sponse to the bal­lot, please

Kapi-Mana News - - OUT & ABOUT -

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.

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