Budget's focus on key issues pleases DHB

By Kiri Gillespie

The Budget addresses key health areas needing the most attention in the Western Bay, says a local health chief.

The sector has been given a boost of $1.6 billion over four years, including $48 million for more elective surgeries, such as hip replacement and cataracts, $25 million to increase the number of people being screened for diseases such as breast cancer and $21 million to reduce rheumatic fever and undertake rheumatic fever vaccine research.

New mothers will benefit from a $18.2 million initiative, with details yet to be announced, and patients with long-term conditions such as diabetes and asthma will get extra support following a $12.8 million boost, and $7 million will also go to increased coverage of preventative health tests for 4-year-olds.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board chairwoman Sally Webb told the Bay of Plenty Times she was pleased the sector received as much money as it did.

The region would reap the benefits from financial boosts to aged care and dementia services, which will receive $70 million over four years, and fighting diabetes and heart disease, which will receive $35.5 million over four years, she said.

"One of the things that struck me was where the money was going. There's been a real effort to put the money where high need is," she said. "We all know that diabetes and heart disease are the two biggest areas of all health illness and death in the country and putting money there is invaluable."

The fight against diabetes and heart disease was one of the board's specific areas of focus, she said. "I think the health of older people in aged care, especially the home-based support, is really important for the Bay of Plenty."

Mrs Webb also applauded the $4.3 million over four years to raise awareness of prostate cancer and ensure men have better access to information about the disease.

Tauranga Age Concern chairwoman Angela Scott said dementia was a big problem in the Bay and it desperately needed more funding to support sufferers.

Health Minister Tony Ryall announced $92 million would be spent over four years for family members who care for disabled adults with high and very high needs.

Of the new spending, $250 million a year will go to health boards.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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