In the 2015 Budget, the Government allocated $6-million of new funding over a three-year period to help improve care for people with osteoarthritis and associated health conditions. This led to the creation of the Mobility Action Plan (or “MAP”) which aimed to improve affected New Zealanders’ health and quality of life through improved access to high-quality advice, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.
In November 2021 the Ministry of Health released an evaluation report of the MAP programme which was completed by Allen + Clarke. It is available to download from the Ministry of Health’s website here.
The report offers a number of important conclusions about the MAP that will be of interest to people with arthritis:
- MAP is an effective early intervention programme for individuals with MSK conditions (e.g. arthritis, osteoporosis, lower back pain).
- Participants increased healthy behaviours, reduced pain levels, enhanced mobility and functionality, enhanced wellbeing and had a reduced need for visits to specialists and other secondary healthcare services.
- Significant improvements in participants’ perceived ability and confidence to self-manage their condition/s.
- The MAP was successful in enrolling Māori and Pacific people, and people who reside in deprived neighbourhoods.
Associate Professor Peter Larmer, who is the former Chair of the Arthritis New Zealand Board of Trustees, played a key role in the MAP in his capacity as a member of the Ministry of Health’s Orthopaedic Sector Group and Co-Chair of the MAP. Speaking about the recently released report, Prof. Larmer noted that:
“Those from Māori, Pasifika and high-deprivation areas engaged with the MAP programme better than nearly all previous Ministry of Health initiatives. It showed that people from these populations were willing and able to re-engage”.
Prof. Larmer is very pleased that the report has finally been released, and urged that action needs to be taken in light of findings outlined in the report:
“Inequity issues can be addressed by taking proactive action and working with these affected groups directly. The MAP is a successful and cost-effective initiative, but the work must start now.”
One major way that Arthritis New Zealand is involved in this work is through our involvement in developing a National Osteoarthritis Strategy with partners from a diverse range of backgrounds. This includes Physiotherapy New Zealand, university researchers working on arthritis research and other healthcare professionals. This group is called Osteoarthritis Aotearoa New Zealand and more information about this collaborative work will be provided in due course.