Response to Stats NZ recommendations for the Health Service User dataset

Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health

Summary

An independent peer review of the Health Service User (HSU) dataset that’s used to calculate COVID-19 vaccination rates has found it’s an appropriate way to measure vaccination coverage.

Manatū Hauora – Ministry of Health commissioned Stats NZ to look at the methodology of the HSU dataset and consider whether it was the best source for vaccine reporting.  This was to help ensure continuous improvement of future datasets used to report on vaccination rates.

Stats NZ has found that the HSU dataset is an appropriate dataset for measuring vaccination coverage and made a number of other recommendations.

The Ministry has accepted the Stats NZ recommendations and has either already implemented them or is in the process of doing so, with one exception (see recommendation 8 in the Ministry’s Response to Stats NZ recommendations for the HSU). For this specific recommendation, further consideration and consultation with other agencies is needed before moving forward.

Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand will start using the updated HSU 2021 dataset from 8 August 2022 to calculate COVID-19 coverage. This replaces the 2020 HSU dataset.

The dataset will be updated every six months, as the latest version is released. This will ensure that we provide the most accurate vaccination coverage information.

While moving to the 2021 HSU data will mean a technical decrease in reported vaccination rates overall, due to the larger number of eligible New Zealanders being identified in the dataset, it does not mean any fewer people have been vaccinated. 

The total number of people aged over 12 who’ve had at least two vaccinations has risen from 3.63 million at the beginning of December 2021, to 3.98 million as at 1 August 2022. 

Thousands of people are being vaccinated very day, and more than 11.1 million vaccinations have been given to New Zealanders aged 5 and up.

New Zealand remains one of the world’s most highly vaccinated countries for COVID-19, sitting in the top half of the group of OECD nations.

Standard for Abortion Counselling Aotearoa New Zealand

Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health

Following changes to the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act, the Ministry of Health is now responsible for abortion services. This includes publishing standards for abortion counselling.

Abortion counselling is no longer mandatory, however people seeking abortion must be made aware that counselling is available. Abortion related counselling must be in line with the standard as outlined in this document.

The standard is firmly grounded in Te Tiriti and health equity practice and sets the expectation of what Manatū Hauora expects of those delivering abortion related counselling.

The standard outlines what abortion counselling is, who can provide abortion counselling and the principles. It sets out the connection with Ngā Paerewa Health and Disability Services Standard NZS 8134:2021 and sets out the rights of people receiving abortion counselling.

Ngā Paerewa defines the updates to the quality and safety requirements for the provision of included services in New Zealand.  Ngā Paerewa reflects the shift towards more person- and whānau-centred health and disability services. People are empowered to make decisions about their own care and support in order to achieve their goals, with a stronger focus on outcomes for people receiving support.

A copy of the standard is available on the Standards New Zealand website.

Implementation of Regulatory Controls on High-Power Laser Pointers: Year 8 (1 March 2021–28 February 2022)

Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health

Summary

This report discusses the eighth year of the Ministry of Health’s (the Ministry’s) implementation of regulatory controls on high-power laser pointers (HPLPs). It looks at the numbers of authorisations and the extent of public interest in the regulations for this period, then goes on to report on surveillance and compliance activity by the Ministry, the New Zealand Customs Service and the New Zealand Police respectively. A full description of the legislative background is included as an appendix to this report.

New funding for water fluoridation

Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has made directions under the Health Act to 14 local authorities to add fluoride to some or all of their water supplies. It is the first time this power has been used since the relevant legislation was amended last year to ensure a national approach to fluoridating water.

Local authorities who are directed to fluoridate their water supplies will be invited to apply for funding from a $11.3 million fund for capital projects associated with these works.

Fluoridation is proven to be a safe, affordable and effective method of preventing tooth decay, Dr Bloomfield says.

‘Community water fluoridation benefits everyone, but especially children, Māori, Pasifika and our most vulnerable. That’s why it is supported by the Pasifika Dental Association and Te Ao Mārama (the Māori Dental Association).

‘Water fluoridation helps prevent tooth decay, along with brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, eating healthy food and avoiding sugary drinks. Fluoride in water acts like a constant repair kit for your teeth.

‘The role of fluoride in water has been well examined around the world – including in New Zealand – over the past 60 years. The Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor recently looked at new information about water fluoridation and found there’s no evidence it causes any significant health issues at the fluoride levels used here in Aotearoa New Zealand.

‘Fluoridated water is safe for everyone to drink – including babies and the elderly – and fluoride exists naturally in air, soil, fresh water, sea water, plants and in food,’ Dr Bloomfield says.

The 2009 New Zealand oral health survey showed that children and adolescents living in areas with fluoridated water have a 40 percent lower lifetime incidence of tooth decay than those living in areas without.

The Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Act 2021 shifted the decision-making authority on community water fluoridation from local authorities to the Director-General of Health on the basis that it is a health-based decision.

‘We estimate that adding fluoride to the water supply in these 14 local authority areas will increase the number of New Zealanders receiving fluoridated water from 51% to around 60%. It’s likely that later this year the Director-General of Health will actively consider whether to issue further directions to fluoridate.

The Ministry of Health will track improvements over time in the oral health of communities receiving water fluoridation.

Background on the directive

  • The Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Act 2021 shifted decision-making on fluoridation from local authorities to the Director-General of Health.
  • The 14 local authorities that have received directives are: Whangārei District Council, Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Waitaki District Council, Waipa District Council, Tauranga City Council, Tararua District Council, Rotorua Lakes Council, New Plymouth District Council, Nelson City Council, Kawerau District Council, Horowhenua District Council, Hastings District Council, Far North District and Auckland Council.
  • The time each local authority has to fluoridate their water supply varies between 6 months and over 3 years, depending on the circumstances of the supply.

Background on fluoride

  • In New Zealand natural fluoride levels in water supplies vary but are generally at a level less than 0.2mg/L.
  • The World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health recommends adjusting fluoride levels to between 0.7 and 1.0 mg/L in drinking water as the most effective and efficient way of preventing dental decay.
  • More about the benefits of water fluoridation can be found on the Fluoride Facts website.

Evaluation of the Māori Influenza and Measles Vaccination Programme: In Pursuit of Māori Health Equity

Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health

The Ministry of Health oversees the Māori Influenza and Measles Vaccination Programme (MIMVP) and provides funding to providers around the country for initiatives designed to boost Māori influenza and measles vaccination rates.

This evaluation assesses the contribution of MIMVP to increasing Māori flu vaccination and equity rates in 2021, identifying which initiatives worked and what could be improved in future.

This report finds that MIMVP made a valuable and worthwhile contribution to Māori health equity. While the overall flu vaccination rates and equity rates were lower than 2020, the rates achieved were still a notable improvement on 2019 and previous years. In addition, providers built on the learnings and capacity developed through MIVP 2020, applied these strategies to their COVID-19 activities as relevant, and new relationships and ways of working emerged.

The report makes a series of recommendations around how immunisation and vaccination rates could be further booster, some of which are being addressed by the establishment of the Maori Health Agency. In particular, the report recommends:

  • elevating a whānau-centred, holistic approach as essential for Māori health equity
  • affirming Māori health providers as crucial to engaging with Māori in the pursuit of equity
  • highlighting Māori provider-led service design as critical within a whānau-centred approach
  • identifying the need for the Ministry, HNZ and MHA to develop the capacity to engage, contract and fund Māori health providers directly.

Registrar (assisted dying) Annual Report

Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health

The End of Life Choice Act (2019) came into force on the 7 November 2021. This established the new Assisted Dying – Ngā Ratonga Mate Whakaahuru service in New Zealand Aotearoa. The Ministry of Health administers the service through a new Secretariat. The Act requires the Registrar (assisted dying) to report to the Minister of Health about the operation of the service each year by the 30 June. This is the first annual report from the service and covers the period from 7 November to 31 March 2022. It reports data required by the Act as well as a description of the implementation process used to prepare the service for its start on the 7 November 2021.

Final Evaluation Report: Mana Ake – Stronger for Tomorrow

Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health

On 22 February 2018, the Prime Minister announced a total of $28 million over three years to improve mental health for primary and intermediate children in Canterbury and Kaikōura. Canterbury District Health Board, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education and inter-sectoral social service partners developed a new, integrated, approach for providing additional mental health support in earthquake affected schools now known as Mana Ake – Stronger for Tomorrow (Mana Ake).

Mana Ake is a holistic mental health programme that seeks to support primary and intermediate school children in Canterbury and Kaikōura to be resilient, and experience positive mental health and continued engagement in learning by being supported and enabled to access appropriate mental health support when needed.

Mana Ake in Canterbury and Kaikōura is led by Canterbury DHB, through a Canterbury Clinical Network Service Level Alliance, working with their local service level alliance partners to design and implement the service.

Mana Ake was externally evaluated by Malatest International. Along with the full report available here, the executive summary is available in the Expanding primary mental health and addiction support section on the Ministry of Health’s website.

Evaluation of the Piki Pilot Project (January 2019 – December 2020)

Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health

The Integrated Psychological Therapies Pilot for 18 to 25 year olds, now known as Piki, provides support to young people aged 18 to 25 years who are experiencing mild to moderate mental health and addiction needs in the Greater Wellington Region.

Piki builds on an existing platform of services through service integration and partnership with existing providers, providing young people with single point of entry access to a range of support options including evidence-based face to face or distance therapy, peer support and connections to digital self-help tools and online support. Tū Ora Compass Health (Tū Ora) works in partnership with a range of local partners to deliver this service.

Piki was externally evaluated by the University of Otago. Along with the full report available here, the executive summary is available in the Expanding primary mental health and addiction support section on the Ministry of Health’s website.

Sparklers Evaluation 2022

Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health

Sparklers provides free, online wellbeing resources via the Sparklers website, designed for students in Years 1–8. Sparklers supports children to look after their own wellbeing, build positive mental health, cope with life’s challenges and build positive relationships. It is made up of over 50 wellbeing activities designed to be easily picked up and used in the classroom and incorporated into lesson planning.

Sparklers, launched in June 2017, was developed by a collaboration of community providers, including Community and Public Health which is a service delivery unit of Canterbury DHB.

The Ministries of Health and Education commissioned an external review of Sparklers, focusing on the alignment of the Sparklers resources to the National Curricula.

Second Monkeypox case confirmed in New Zealand

Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health

The Ministry of Health has been notified of a second confirmed case of Monkeypox.

The person, who has a record of recent overseas travel, is currently isolating in the Northern region. There is no evidence of community transmission from this case. This case is not linked to the case reported on Saturday, and there is no evidence of any community transmission of Monkeypox.

Public health advice has assessed the risk of transmission from this case as low.

To protect the privacy of the case and contacts, we will be making no further comment on this case.

The Ministry of Health reported the first case of Monkeypox in New Zealand.

Public health advice

The majority of people with Monkeypox can be safely managed at home. They are asked to isolate until the scabs from lesions have fallen off. At this point we are asking close contacts to monitor for symptoms for 3 weeks and isolate if symptoms develop.

Monkeypox does not easily spread between people so the risk to the general public is low. Person to person spread may occur through intimate contact with an infected person (including kissing), direct contact with a person’s infected lesions, contact with contaminated bed linen or clothes, and respiratory droplets from an individual with monkeypox.

Since reports of Monkeypox emerged internationally, the Ministry has provided information about the virus on its website. The Ministry has also provided advice to public health units, primary health organisations and sexual health clinics to assist with identifying potential cases.

What should people, particularly those who have recently arrived from countries where Monkeypox is circulating, be looking out for

The first symptoms of Monkeypox include one or more of the following: headache, acute onset of fever (>38.0C), chills, swollen lymph nodes, muscle and body aches, backache and tiredness.

The characteristic rash, which typically looks similar to chicken pox, appears after a few days.