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NZNO celebrates World Smokefree Day by lodging our smokefree services petition

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Today, the 31st of May is World Smokefree Day. Every year the Health Promotion Agency puts out great resources for people want to quit smoking and stay off tobacco for good. They have infographics to download and motivational facts like the one below. Not many people know that smoking makes you deaf!

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Researchers have identified though that without further big changes, New Zealand will not reach our smokefree 2025 goal, particularly for Māori and Pacific communities. That’s why NZNO was distressed when we heard last year that funding for some iwi and community smoking cessation providers was being cut, as well as for advocacy services like the Smokefree Coalition. NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku said ““It doesn’t make any sense that on the one hand the Government supports the goal of Smokefree Aotearoa 2025, but on the other is pulling funding out of Smokefree advocacy services including the Smokefree Coalition, ASH and Smokefree Nurses. Every day we see the effects of smoking on our patients’ physical and mental health, and the social, economic and cultural wellbeing of their whanau. It’s heartbreaking.”

Nurses working to stop smoking in the community say they need advocacy and specialist services to refer patients to and reinforce their stop smoking message. Porirua Community Union’s Litia Gibson talked about the need for these services to NZNO last year in this video. “Any cut will affect all our services. Because it’s not just the services we provide, it’s the patients and the populations that we are caring for who are already in vulnerable positions.”

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NZNO decided to run a petition with Together, the digital campaigning arm of the Council of Trade Unions, to ask for more funding for these services. Today, we delivered 1823 signed names of nurses, caregivers, midwives, kaimahi hauora and their supporters to Marama Fox MP, in recognition of the longstanding work that she and her predecessors in parliament have done on ending smoking in New Zealand.

Litia and Marama had a little chat afterwards where Litia broke down the issues around referral services and increasing workload for nurses. “Without specialist services, we don’t have the time. You need to pack so much into an appointment, because with health funding where it is, community need is so great.”

Marama agreed on the need appropriate smokefree services and the future benefit this can bring to our country. “Being smokefree puts real money back in the hands of whānau. It protects our future generations, and ensures they don’t have to make the same decision to quit because they never start. It’s all about whānau.”

Marama had brought along a beautiful kete to put our petition in and present it to parliament. Litia in return swapped her red flower to put in the MP’s hair for the afternoon- ‘There, now your outfit is complete!’


We are proud that a little bit of NZNO is being delivered to parliament on World Smokefree day to support our Smokefree 2025 goal. Kia kaha koutou, thank you for supporting this mahi. Your names are now part of history.

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Nurses go to Fiji

When Cyclone Winston hit Fiji earlier this year, emergency services were on high alert all across the pacific. Those services included a number of NZNO nurses who also volunteered for the New Zealand Medical Assistance Team (NZMAT). Emma Brooks who normally works at the Kenepuru Operating Theatre and Megann Deveraux from the Wellington Regional Hospital Operating Theatre both deployed to Suva with the NZMAT on 1 March. We had a chat to Emma about what happened on the deployment and what it means to be part of NZMAT.

What is NZMAT and who is involved with it?

It’s basically a team of medical professionals that are trained to deploy to disaster areas to support the local health service. There are doctors, nurses, paramedics, allied health staff and even some non-medical members that work in areas like logistics. We all go through training to be able to be deployed. It’s a civilian based group so we aren’t part of the defence forces in any way but we do help with their disaster relief efforts.

What happened while you were deployed?

We left New Zealand on 1 March and flew directly into Suva with the help of the NZ Air force. We were a part of four teams, two of which were surgical, one general, and one orthopaedic and two were primary health. Because I’m a theatre nurse, I was in one of the surgical teams which was based at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital. We were there as support. We had to be flexible in what we did and had to take on the extra work that had been created due to the Cyclone. Our arrival was almost perfect timing as one of the Fijian Orthopaedic surgeons ended up in ICU the day before we arrived.

Over the two weeks we were there, we did 102 surgical cases over 12 days of surgery. These were cyclone and non-cyclone trauma cases and elective surgeries. The othropaedic team even did an emergency inter-island trip to Labasa Hospital on the northern island of Fiji. We were flown there by the French Airforce, however, they didn’t serve croissants or coffee on the flight.

What was most memorable about the deployment?

Working on the victims was by far the hardest thing we did. We did lose a couple people due to the trauma they had endured.  Because of the cyclone, the Fijian health services were stretched, any countries would be, and we tried our best to help where we could. The cyclone had caused such destruction, we had to work with very limited supplies. Having said that, it was a privilege to be there. The people we helped, they all were all incredible

There are various requirements to be able to join NZMAT. Go to the Ministry of Health website to find more information.

 


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Working in partnership for health

IMG_0103Yesterday NZNO president Grant Brookes, CTU economist Bill Rosenberg and others made submissions to the Greater Wellington Regional Council on a motion brought by Cr Paul Bruce.

Cr Bruce realised that, if ratified, the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) would constrain the Council from reaching its goals, in many ways. The Council has recorded its opposition to the TPPA.

Grant made the links between people and health, and the environments they live in. Achieving health requires wrap-around thinking and intersecting actions. We all need to be on the same page if we are to realise a healthy Aotearoa New Zealand.

Here’s Grant’s submission:

Kia ora koutou. Good morning. My name is Grant Brookes. I am a registered nurse, and the president of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation.

NZNO is the leading professional association and union for nurses in Aotearoa New Zealand, representing 46,000 nurses, midwives, students, kaimahi hauora and health workers – including four and a half thousand in the Greater Wellington Region.

NZNO embraces Te Tiriti o Waitangi and works to improve the health status of all peoples of Aotearoa New Zealand through participation in health and social policy development.

At present, a major policy focus for the sector is the update of the New Zealand Health Strategy, being led by the Ministry of Health. The relevance of this to Councillor Paul Bruce’s motion will soon become clear.

The previous New Zealand Health Strategy, introduced in 2000, has occasionally been referenced in this Council’s planning.

The updated Strategy, which proposes a clear view of the future for the health system over the next 10 years, is likely to have greater bearing on your decision-making.

This is because an eighth guiding principle for the health system has been added to the existing seven, in recognition of the way the wider environment contributes to people’s health. It is: Thinking beyond narrow definitions of health and collaborating with others to achieve wellbeing.

Particular examples of collaboration between health services and other agencies are mentioned in the Strategy. They include Healthy Auckland Together and Healthy Christchurch.

Healthy Auckland Together revolves around a Regional Action Plan, developed by 21 organisations, including District Health Boards, Primary Health Organisations and the Auckland Council. It views local government domains like transport and regional parks (and indeed local government employment conditions) as part of the health infrastructure.

Healthy Christchurch is a similar, DHB-led collaboration involving local government, based on the World Health Organisation’s Healthy Cities model.

Meanwhile, World Health Organisation Director-General Dr Margaret Chan has spoken of the TPPA as part of a “particularly disturbing trend [involving]… the use of foreign investment agreements to handcuff governments and restrict their policy space.”

And as we’ve just heard from New Zealand Council of Trade Unions economist Bill Rosenberg, the TPPA’s restrictions apply to local government as well – even as your role in creating healthy environments is receiving greater recognition.

As a nurse, I am very concerned that the TPPA will restrict your ability to fully contribute under the updated New Zealand Health Strategy.

So I applaud you for being one of the councils, covering 60 percent of New Zealanders, who have previously voted to express opposition to the TPPA, as it stood.

I now ask you to support the recommendations in Cr Paul Bruce’s notice of motion, especially these parts:

“That the Chief Executive… deliver a report… on the impact that the TPP will have on Greater Wellington Regional Council’s ability to make decisions in the interests of our region, the people and their environment”, and

“That the Council asks that central government carry out… health impact assessments of the potential effects of the TPP.”

Thank you for the opportunity to address you today.

 


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The greatest threat to human health

personal protective equipmentNew campaigns adviser, Jenn Lawless and I were talking about NZNO’s recent submission on climate change and some of the many ways climate change will affect health in New Zealand/Aotearoa and the world. Jenn then went and wrote this scenario – she calls it a best case scenario; some of us are more hopeful. I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.

You have woken up in the future. The year is 2115, and you are getting ready to go to your nursing job at Auckland Central Island hospital.

5:00am Rise out of your sleeping pod you share with 25 other Critical Core Workers (CCW) so that you can catch the circular ferry as it stops in at the Southern Auckland Islands that used to be known as Mangere before the great Greenland Ice sheet collapse. You’re lucky you’re a CCW so you can stay in on the Southern Auckland Island so close to Central Island; if you were an unskilled worker or climate refugee you’d be stuck on the far Western Islands where there’s no daily ferry if there’s energy shortages.

7:00am Arrive at work and receive your morning food portion. Because of all the salt water getting into the soil and the summer cyclones there is never enough food for everyone. CCW’s get a basic nutrition package as part of their job. A regular part of your day is treating a variety of difficult health problems because of malnutrition, especially in children.

7:15am You are sent down to Refugee Arrivals for your first shift and jump on the medical barge. There isn’t space to dock all of the rickety ships from climate refugees or unload the undocumented families without land-passes or citizenship, so it’s a case of providing emergency relief on the water. Dehydration from months of dangerous travel at sea is the most common problem, but you can’t get onto the refugee ships- despite your full-body suit, the risk of unknown epidemic diseases to an already fragile population is too great.

12:30pm You recycle your haz-suit and get a few minutes of delicious cool in the air-conditioned Central Island staff lounge. At the same time you take your regular scan for skin cancer and cataracts– a real problem now with depleted ozone.

1:pm You get a call for overload help from General Population Medical. Lots of Land-Pass holders there have been waiting all morning and they are angry that refugees are getting any medical treatment at all when there is such a shortage of medicine and basic supplies. Because of the Oceanic Fresh-Water Wars, getting any medicine we can’t produce in New Zealand can take months by boat, to get around the no-sail and heavily pirated areas. You spend the afternoon doing what you can to treat the malaria, dengue fever, heat-stress and other tropical diseases with basic symptom management until the next medical supply ship gets through. Education about mosquito nets and natural repellent is just as important as treatment, but there is not much you can do about the malnutrition transfers from Northland. Expensive treatments like dialysis are out of the question; but patients might be lucky enough to win the 3D printed kidney lottery granted twice a year.

6:pm Passing back through the armed exit to Medical and Nutrition, you feel so lucky to be a CCW, but also sad about what more you could do for your patients if you had the resources that the Global-Pass holders have hoarded. It’s true they seem to keep everything running for the Land-Pass holders like yourself but you’re sure it didn’t used to be this unequal in the past…back in the Democracy. They were so lucky. But nobody saw this coming then. Did they?

The World Health Organisation has described climate change as ‘the greatest threat to human health this century’ and that 250,000 more people will die every year between 2030 and 2050. This imagined future is based on risks outlined in the recent New Zealand Nurses Organisation submission to ‘Setting New Zealand’s post-2020 climate change target’ run by the Ministry for the Environment.