Equality, News

Coalition to focus on health equity

To provide a collective voice and expert support for effective policies and actions to reduce the harm from tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy foods, a new organisation has been established. Health Coalition Aotearoa (HCA) also aims to reduce inequities through a focus on the determinants of health. Launched in Wellington recently, Health Minister Dr David Clark commended the initiative, led by Professor Boyd Swinburn of the School of Population Health, University of Auckland. Dr Clark highlighted the need for more and better collaboration among health professionals, academics, NGOs and the Government to tackle health inequities in New Zealand. Professor Swinburn said at the launch that unhealthy diets, obesity, tobacco, and alcohol contribute about one third of the overall preventable health loss in New Zealand. Investment in population prevention of harm from tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy food is half a per cent of the national health budget and government prevention infrastructure was weak. “Implementing the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ‘Best Buys’ for preventing chronic disease would save lives and money,’ Professor Swinburn said. The Health Promotion Forum (HPF) is among more than 20 NGOs and institutions, and academic leaders that are foundation members of HCA. “We need collective leadership and a united front to address the many challenges that we face today,” said HPF Executive Director Sione Tu’itahi. Pictured at the launch of the coalition are from left: Professor Michael Baker, Otago University, Dr Lisa Te Morenga, Victoria Uni, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Director-General, Ministry of Health, Professor Boyd Swinburn, University of Auckland, Hon Minister of Health Dr David Clark, Professor Sally Casswell, Massey University, Mike Kernaghan, CEO of Cancer Society.