Finance Minister Nicola Willis and MP Chris Bishop hold a large copy of the printed Budget

The low or no-cost health prevention initiatives the Government ignored in this budget

Health Coalition Aotearoa is calling on the government to listen to the experts and
acknowledge the impacts that can be made to the health and wellbeing of New
Zealanders, with very little cost required.

“We had all been warned by the government that this budget would be moderate and
careful and while it is pleasing to see some uplift in spend for primary, community
and public health, a large majority of the money allocated to health is to address
issues once people become unwell and require care,” said Professor Lisa Te
Morenga, Health Coalition Aotearoa co-chair.

“There are so many initiatives that health providers and health advocacy groups
have been calling for that can be implemented with little cost that focus on the health
prevention measures that keep people well.”

Despite making up almost 1/3 of preventable death and disease, public health
initiatives that address harm from tobacco, alcohol, and unhealthy food continue to
be erased from a national health strategy. Health Coalition Aotearoa are urging the
government to reconsider the following:

  1. Reinstate the Smokefree Act and continue on our path to being a Smokefree
    country. This would save the health system $1.2 billion over the next twenty
  2. Keep the Ka Ora, Ka Ako Healthy School Lunches Programme in its current
    format, providing healthy and nutritious food for all students at schools
    involved in the programme. Our high school students deserve better than
    packaged and processed foods. Investing in the first 8000 days of children’s
    lives with food delivering to students’ nutritional needs will return benefits to
  3. Implement a national food strategy and regional food policies as
    recommended by the 2023 New Zealand Healthy Food Policy Index and the
    recently released Balancing Our Food System report by the Public Health
    Advisory Committee. This would create the conditions for improved population
    health and nutrition, increase the supply of affordable healthy food and reduce
    food insecurity.
  4. Restrict marketing and sponsorship of alcohol and redraft alcohol law in
    partnership with Māori to ensure Te Tiriti o Waitangi is given appropriate effect
    and eliminates the disproportionate harm to Māori.
  5. Ensure that an adequate proportion of the budget (5% of the health spend) is
    allocated to primary and public health. Long-term investment in the
    determinants of health will save the health system.

Health Coalition Aotearoa co-chair of the Public Health Infrastructure Panel David
Galler remains frustrated at a lack of initiatives aligned to improve the health and
wellbeing of our people. “We need to see a budget with fresh thinking and
an approach that both recognises and tackles the drivers of ill health and wellbeing
like poor food, alcohol and other addictions such as nicotine, across all of society and invests in the overall health and wellbeing of the population.”

“The demands on our health system will continue to rise dramatically with a failure to
recognise and reduce the drivers of health and we will never keep up with the demand for health services.”

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