The Boards of all five South Island DHBs have endorsed regional position statements on tobacco control and alcohol harm reduction that will now support a South Island coordinated approach on these issues.
Both documents have been developed collaboratively by the three South Island Public Health Units that make up the SI Alliance’s Public Health Partnership (PHP).
Southern DHB-based Chair of the PHP Dr Marion Poore said these statements demonstrated the value of working collaboratively on two significant risk factors for a number of chronic diseases.
“By working in a co-ordinated way the DHBs aim to reduce the harm people currently experience from drinking alcohol in a hazardous way and also aim to minimise the potential for future harm,” she said.
“For example working with police and licensing inspectors to improve the safety around special license events in order to reduce the number of people being seen in emergency departments.”
Alcohol use is a major risk factor for numerous health conditions, injuries and social problems, causing approximately 4% of deaths worldwide and (in 2000) 3.9% of all deaths in New Zealand. Much acute harm results from intoxication and includes: road traffic injuries and fatalities, burns, falls, drowning, poisoning, foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, assault, self-inflicted injury, suicide and homicide.
Dr Poore explained that the PHP is supporting the Public Health Units to develop an outcomes framework and set of indicators to guide DHBs in their development of and monitoring of their Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategies. A draft of this is due to go out for consultation with key stakeholders early in 2014.
PHP member and GM of Canterbury Public Health Evon Currie said tobacco use is the most important cause of preventable disease, so multiple approaches are key to overall reduction of smoking.
“Having support across the boards enables all DHBs to tackle harm minimisation in a whole-of-system, collaborative way, which will have greater impact on tobacco control.”
Ministry health research shows that tobacco use leads to a higher incidence of cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory disease and lower life expectancy for Maori compared to the rest of the population. In 2009 smoking data in New Zealand showed that one in five (21%) adults aged 15-64 years were current smokers, with 19.2% of adults smoking daily (Ministry of Health 2010), a steadily declining figure (recent census data shows smoking rates have fallen from 2006 to 2013 to 15.1% in adults aged 15+.)