Māori experience low health status across a range of health and socio-economic statistics. They comprise over one-third percent of Northland’s total population, but 52 percent of the child and youth population, a key group for achieving long-term gains. Māori experience early onset of long-term conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and their life expectancy is about nine years less than non-Māori.
Child and Youth
The child and youth proportion of Northland’s population is projected to decline over the coming years from 32.7 percent in 2018 to 30.7 percent in 2028, but remains a priority because healthy children make for healthy adults and because children are more vulnerable than adults.
The deprivation index, which divides New Zealanders into ten groups according to their deprivation scores, placed 80 percent of the population on the most deprived half of the index.
In 2018, 18 percent of our population was aged 65 or more; that is projected to rise to 28 percent by 2028 (when the national figure will be only 21 percent). The ageing population places significant demands on health services provided specifically for older people (residential care, home and community support services, day care). It also increases the prevalence of long-term conditions that become more common with age.
Long Term Conditions
About three-quarters of deaths in Northland are from cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) or cancer (most commonly trachea-bronchus-lung, colorectal, prostate and breast).
Twenty-one percent of adult Northlanders have been told they have high blood pressure and 13 percent that they have high cholesterol, both known risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Although diabetes is not a major killer itself, it is a primary cause of heart disease. A great deal of unnecessary illness and hospitalisation is related to poor management of diabetes.
Northland’s Year 8 students have a higher number of decayed, missing or filled teeth (1.12 compared with 0.7 nationally). Our 5-year-olds have one of the lowest percentages of teeth without tooth decay (45 percent compared with 59.7 percent nationally).
The way people live their lives and the behaviours they exhibit have an enormous effect on health status. There are many influences, but key ones are smoking, diet, alcohol and other drugs, and lack of physical activity.
Many of the causes of ill health rest with social and economic factors such as housing, education and economic prosperity. The health sector cannot affect these directly, but as a DHB we work collaboratively with other government and local body organisations to achieve a healthier Northland.