Lives of rural New Zealand at risk

Poor connectivity and inequitable health services are putting lives of rural New Zealanders at risk

Lives of rural New Zealand at risk
Rural Lives at Risk

Poor connectivity and inequitable health services are proving to be major barriers in rural New Zealand, putting the lives of people at risk, Dr Martin London, chair of Rural health Alliance of Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ), says.

He adds the government needs to work towards removing these obstacles and improving the health services in rural areas. With at least 600,000 people in rural regions in New Zealand, Dr Martin says the government needs to help remove barriers so rural people’s health is considered just as important as those who live in cities.

During his meeting with Health Minister Jonathan Coleman, he outlined RHAANZ’s priorities.

"Overseas evidence links health and wellbeing to economic productivity. Intuitively this will apply in NZ so it is an imperative rural people receive their fair share of publicly funded health services and have equitable access to health services," he says.

"We asked him to reinstate rural proofing across all government departments and we want to fast track a new definition of rurality as it pertains to health services in New Zealand. These are two of the most important ways we can hold policy makers to account for equitable health outcomes for rural people. 

He added that issues such as mobile blackspots are seen across rural New Zealand and poor broadband connectivity is a barrier to education. He also stressed on the important of better retention and recruitment in the rural health workforce.

"We also need to make our small towns liveable so that people want to come and to stay. If we can make our rural communities vibrant again many of our issues will be solved," Dr Martin says.

"We want a national virtual health care service for rural New Zealanders, bringing services closer to rural people and helping rural people to age in their own homes. The technology and expertise is there. We need, in an election year, evidence of the political will to see it happen."


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