A national strategy for the management and treatment of arthritis needs to be a priority for the Ministry of Health, Arthritis New Zealand today told the Health Select Committee. By 2040 one million people will have arthritis and an action plan is urgent. There is also a demonstrated strong linkage between long term conditions such as arthritis and mental health.

“We cannot spend any more time in meetings talking about this looming tidal wave – we need to develop and implement an action plan,” said Philip Kearney CEO of Arthritis New Zealand.

“This action plan needs to include specific provision for gout arthritis, especially for Māori and Pacific populations. Often gout is not recognised as a form of arthritis and misconceptions about it are common.”

“ There are solutions and today we told the Select Committee that increasing the number of people on well managed gout programmes could reduce the cost of gout arthritis in the health system and greatly improve the wellbeing of Māori and Pacific who have a genetic predisposition to gout arthritis and yet are underserviced in current gout arthritis management,” said Mr Kearney.

Recommendations to Select Committee:

  • The Ministry of Health be asked to formulate a national strategy for the management and treatment of arthritis and report back to the Health Select Committee in 2021
  • That the development of a Model of Care for arthritis be commissioned and resourced by the Ministry of Health by 2021
  • The Ministry of Health be asked to facilitate research into the actual numbers of children and young people under 15 who have arthritis
  • Each DHB be asked to include specific provision for management of gout arthritis, particularly for Māori and Pacific populations in their area in their 2020 and future Annual Plans including progress being made on increasing the percentage of people on a best practice treatment programme
  • DHBs in areas with significant gout arthritis prevalence be asked to plan an awareness and education health workforce programme on treatment and management of gout arthritis in their regions
  • Each DHB be asked to include an update on progress in managing gout arthritis in their reporting to the Ministry of Health

These recommendations have been developed from the Deloitte Access Economics report on the economic cost of arthritis in New Zealand released in September last year. This report showed that the cost of arthritis in New Zealand is $12.2 billion – which includes costs to the health system, efficiency and productivity losses and the loss of wellbeing.

“We know that promoting wellbeing is a central component of government policy and our recommendations to the Select Committee have the potential to significantly increase the wellbeing of people with all forms of arthritis” concluded Mr Kearney.

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