Emergency doctor Tom Mulholland is back on the road scouring rural communities for some of what he believes to be the hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders suffering from undiagnosed diabetes, depression, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

His Walk the Talk Wellness Tour has seen him swap his scrubs for a Swanndri and hitting rural tracks on foot, to address what he describes as a rural health crisis.

"The crisis is that these dangerous conditions are treatable, but go unnoticed until it's too late, and people end up in the emergency department, or worse, in the morgue," he said.

Dr Tom - a former doctor at Kaitaia Hospital - will speak at the Te Ahu cinema in Kaitaia on Wednesday, November 6, at 7pm. All are welcome. The following morning he will take a short walk at Te Kohanga (Shipwreck Bay), Ahipara, starting at 8.30am. The talks are open to the public.


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As a health campaigner who had undertaken five nationwide health tours in his retro Chevrolet ambulance, he had a simple solution for the crisis, which he was employing on his latest crusade. Just like farmers have apps to measure their milk fat solids, he believes people should be measuring the most important numbers of all, their health numbers, using a simple app he had developed, Know Your Numbers Dashboard (KYND).

"We may ask each other 'Are you okay?' and the answer 90 per cent of the time will be 'Yeah, I'm okay mate," he said.

"We found in one study during a rural tour that 60 per cent of people had high blood pressure, 42 per cent had anxiety, 34 per cent had depression and 52 per cent had increased waist circumference. So rural New Zealand is not okay."

The KYND app asked users a series of questions on their mental, physical and social health, and then measured key physical and mental health touchpoints to give a "revealing" wellness score.

"Instead of asking are you okay, we want you to ask, what's your KYND score?" PGG Wrightson was helping to fund the two-year tour, aimed at visiting 20 rural regions, by sponsoring a free code for the KYND app (N8PGGFF).

Meanwhile Dr Tom's message was simple - unless you measure it you can't manage it.

"We all know people who look physically healthy on the outside, but they may have high cholesterol and high blood pressure, with no symptoms, and then they have a stroke or heart attack," he said.


As well as using his ambulance as a mobile medical centre to encourage rural folk to employ the KYND app, his Walk the Talk Wellness Tour includes community walks and talks.