Uninhibited, fair access to health and disability services underpin the livability of communities as ‘health’ is a fundamental component of wellbeing. The Ministry of Health states that comprehensive, quality services for people living in rural areas is a priority for the Government.
Community narrative gathered for the purposes of this study, indicate a strong sense of disconnect and neglect by national health services, both primary and secondary. Within a New Zealand context, primary healthcare refers to the first point of contact for most health services i.e. GP’s, dentists, midwives and pharmacists; while secondary healthcare refers to more specialist level care, and is often based in a hospital or private specialist setting.
One particularly inhibiting factor is that the District is split between two District Health Boards; the Waikato DHB and the Whanganui DHB; with a proportion of the District choosing to access other DHB’s due to their proximity, these include the Taranaki DHB (New Plymouth) and the Mid-Central DHB (Palmerston North).
Other notable factors inhibiting the health of many Ruapehu residents include environmental factors such as poor housing and a cold climate. The most consistent narratives expressed by all participants across the district were, “long wait times to access primary healthcare”, and “financial barriers and inadequate public transport prohibiting access secondary heath care”. In addition to this, the main centers of the Ruapehu District score high on the deprivation index.
- Wait times to access local primary health care
- Accessibility* issues
- Lack of fit for purpose public transport to access secondary health care
associated with travel to secondary services
- Lack of knowledge about the National Travel Assistance Scheme
- Effects of poor housing quality
- Mental health services – what are they, where are they, when are they available and to whom
- Confusion over DHB boundaries
*Accessibility is defined as accessible within one hours travel
In this section
The Kakahi community viewed health problems, such as rheumatic fever and diabetes as commonplace, thought to be due to the likes of uninsulated and overcrowded housing and poor diet.
Mental illness is perceived as a significant and prevalent health issue, one that is not always visible and mainly affecting woman.
Quality of housing and overcrowding are seen to be a significant determinant of health for the residents of Ohakune despite new housing standards.
The community has identified that the most prevalent health conditions are those associated with an aging community.
Access to health services is perceived by Owhango residents as a burden, as such the help of others is frequently required.
Respiratory illness, infectious disease and drug and alcohol addiction are the most concerning health issues for the participants.
There is a large population of elderly people in Taumarunui and therefore the most prevalent health issues in the area included chronic conditions affecting the aging population.
Waiouru was not considered to have many people living in the community with high health needs and has few retirees.