In our April 2019 issue, I started my column noting that we were about to make a presentation to the Health Select Committee. I am delighted to report that this submission was extremely well-received by the politicians on both sides of the house – click here to read the full story on the submission.

As a result of this submission we have since met with the Ministry of Health and are jointly developing initiatives that will greatly improve the management of gout arthritis. This is significant progress and a major step forward for the 186 000 people in New Zealand who have this condition.

Of course, gout arthritis is only one strand of our work. In September we are hosting Prof. David Hunter from Australia, a leading expert on osteoarthritis. He will speak about a possible model of care for caring for people with osteoarthritis so that the need for surgery may be reduced. He will be visiting Christchurch, Wellington, Hamilton, and Auckland there will be open sessions for you to come and hear him.

Another area that we are working on is services for children and young people. We plan to extend services for families who have children with arthritis.

While we have a well-established annual camp for children with arthritis and training weekend for teens aged 15 and over, we know that these groups require ongoing support. We will increase our services to provide professional support and advice for these families. This will be undertaken in close partnership with the National Paediatric Rheumatology Service.

We are already planning our advocacy work for the general election next year. Coming up later this year we will have a survey to help us determine the priority issues we need to raise with politicians from all parties. If you want to be involved in this, please do call Sally on 0800 663 463.

None of this activity could happen without the wonderful support we receive from our donors and volunteers who truly are the backbone of this organisation. Sincere thanks to you all – you are the heart and soul of this organisation.

If at any time you have queries or concerns, I would welcome a call from you. Call 0800 663 463 and ask for me.

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