Professor Jane Mills, pro vice-chancellor of Massey University’s College of Health, explains how the future for rural health in NZ is positive.
Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHANZ) is gathering in Wellington for the inaugural RuralFest conference tomorrow (May4) and Thursday.
RHANZ, which is made up of 42 membership organisations, will discuss and determine the top health and well-being issues facing rural communities.
Rural GP Dr Jo Scott-Jones says RuralFest is a flagship event for RHANZ, who represent a united voice from across multiple rural sector organisations.
"We're aiming to identify the key 'common ground' issues that all member organisations think are important for the health and well-being of rural New Zealand," he says.
"This is important because the health of people living and working in rural New Zealand is a vital part of our economy and essential if we are going to double the value of exports by 2025.
"We will aim to provide solutions rather than just identify problems and are grateful for the opportunity to take these key messages into the offices of parliamentarians.
"At RuralFest, we will determine around five priorities for the health and well-being of those in rural communities - and then take those issues to parliament to discuss with key politicians."
Dr Scott-Jones says rural residents have notoriously suffered from inequality in healthcare - usually because rural communities often have poor access to resources and key health professionals.
"We're here to promote the highest quality and efficient health and disability service for all rural people and their families," he said.