Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Ministry of Health annual report reveals progress despite pandemic pressure

The Ministry of Health’s latest annual report reveals a sector that has performed under pressure.

In a large and complex sector there is often significant progress that is unseen beyond those who benefit, the Ministry said in a statement.

“We all experience times when things don’t go as planned, and this does often receive prominent coverage in the media.”

“It’s timely to recognise some of the health and disability sector achievements and these are highlighted in the Ministry’s 2021/22 Annual report,” it said.

Highlights include the distribution of more than 1.4 million influenza vaccines and the equity gap for Māori aged over 65 was reduced to 4.4% from 8.4% in the previous year.

The National Bowel Screening programme completed its nationwide rollout and provided free screening to 835,000 New Zealanders aged between 60-74. Since its inception in July 2017 to the end of June 2022 the programme has distributed one million test kits, identified 1,422 cancers and removed thousands of pre-cancerous polyps.

Funding 166 cochlear implants, nearly double the 86 funded the previous year, significantly improving the quality of life for individuals with a severe hearing loss or profound deafness, the Ministry said.

“These highlights, and much more of the work delivered by health and disability services, were carried out at the same time as the country was also responding to the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said.

During 2021/22 the sector delivered on the most complex vaccination programme in New Zealand’s history achieving high coverage rates across the population. 

The latest data shows:

  • 90% of the eligible population (12+) have finished their primary course (two doses);
  • 73% of over 18s have had at least one booster;
  • 40% of over 50s have had a second booster.

“Our high vaccination rate is one of our strongest defences against future outbreaks.”

“The Annual Report describes New Zealand’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as continuing to be one of the best in the world. 

“The Annual Report also offered the Ministry an opportunity to sincerely thank all health and disability workers for their professionalism, commitment and sheer hard work,” it said.

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