For the most part local medical websites, even those produced by the Government, lack the deep financial backing enjoyed by the best overseas efforts, and this lack of resources often shows.

Fortunately for us, the Kiwi web contains a lot of well-presented information that's very specific to us and most medical websites have pointers to high-quality resources on the wider web.

The Ministry of Health and several related Government agencies have sites that examine health issues from a public policy perspective, and many of these have links to outside resources.

If the information you are after has a public policy component, such as drug addiction, suicide, or asthma, then the Government stable might just be the best place for you to start your search.

The health and medicine index of the National Library -
Te Puna Web Directory - is an exhaustive collection of New Zealand and Australian health-related websites, much of it with a Maori and Pacific Island focus.

Other sites worth a visit are;

NZ Ministry of Health

National Drug Policy

MedSafe NZ

New Zealand Health Information Service.

There is no shortage of possibilities if you want to get your online medical information locally - but a few sites really stand out.

Everybody.co.nz is a plain-English, general consumer information site that helps locate midwives, among other things, and provides background information on the ones that it helps you locate.

Only six were listed for Auckland when we checked, but it's a good place to start.

The index divides the country into 15 sections to help with the search and there is a collection of links to midwifery groups and associations as well.

The site also contains a wealth of plain-language topic papers, most written by medical professionals, covering a huge range of illnesses and conditions, ranging from leg cramps to lupus to incontinence.

Many contain links for more detailed information, illustrations and tips for when it is best to talk to a doctor.

Familydoctor.co.nz is another plain-English gateway, but a bit more formally organised, often to good effect.

Although not quite as packed as the Everybody website, Family Doctor is produced by an impressively qualified group of doctors, a number of whom started practice in South Africa.

The site is intended to help patients interact in a more informed way with their own physicians, one of the primary reasons patients turn to the internet.