Putting your wellbeing first
From the outset the Coalition Government has stated our commitment to building a better future for our children. That means putting the wellbeing of all our people first and rebuilding the critical public services, like health, that keep us strong.
So far in Northland we’ve seen this commitment in action with a $24 million funding package for new endoscopy and cardiac care capacity at Whanga¯rei Hospital, and
$7.1m for a new outpatients and primary care facility at the Bay of Islands Hospital at Kawakawa.
And just last week the cost of visiting the doctor became much cheaper for the approximately 40,000 Community Service cardholders here in Northland, meaning more people will be able to get the care they need, when they need it.
I’m also encouraged to see we acted quickly to launch a targeted vaccination programme to control the concerning outbreak of meningococcal disease, as soon the outbreak was identified.
This MenW strain of the disease has a high mortality rate and tragically has killed three of our people in Northland this year. So far 29 people have contracted MenW nationwide in 2018 (more than twice as many as in 2017), including seven here in Northland.
Nothing matters more to any parent than the health and wellbeing of our children, and we are especially concerned about protecting children and whanau where the outbreak is based.
The three-week community vaccination programme began yesterday, and will target Northland residents who are aged 9 months to 4 years, and those aged 13 to 19 years, as vaccinating these two age groups is the best way to reduce the spread of meningococcal disease across the entire Northland community.
We know vaccination programmes work for meningococcal disease because we’ve been down this road before. Between 2004 and 2006, there was a successful nationwide vaccination campaign to deal with meningococcal B. In 2011, a localised vaccination programme was stopped an outbreak of meningococcal C in Northland.
Launching a vaccination programme now, when the school year is almost over and the holiday season is close, will be challenging for Northland DHB, but it’s vital we begin this work as soon as possible to avoid any further loss of life.
My electorate offices have been getting inquiries from people who cannot get their immunisations through their local GP and are not aware that it is being run through selected high schools and community centres across Northland. If you’re not certain where to go, please visit the Northland DHB website at northlanddhb.org.nz or my Facebook page.
Meningococcal disease is one of the most difficult to diagnose as the symptoms can be similar to other diseases such as the flu. Please don’t take any chances. If you notice any symptoms or have any other concerns, contact your doctor — or call Healthline free on 0800 611 116 at any hour of the day or night.
"Meningococcal disease is one of the most difficult to diagnose as the symptoms can be similar to other diseases such as the flu."