Politicians, Public Servants, and the Health of the People

Sir David Skegg argues that failures in public health leadership and action reflect both a lack of political will, and weaknesses in the NZ public service.

Politicians, Public Servants, and the Health of the People

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Event type: Public Lectures

11 November 2019 from 12.30 pm - 1.30 pm 11 Nov 2019 12:30 pm 11 Nov 2019 1:30 pm

Old Government Buildings, lecture theatre 2

Attacks on PHARMAC in recent months have implied that failure to fund expensive new drugs can explain the higher risk of dying from cancer in New Zealand than in Australia or numerous other countries.  In fact the higher mortality in New Zealand has far more to do with delays in diagnosis and commencement of standard treatment.  For example, about 100 New Zealanders are now dying from bowel cancer unnecessarily each year, simply because we failed to introduce a screening programme at the same time as Australia, the UK and several other countries.

The control of cancer and most other diseases depends not only on treatment, but also on public health measures to prevent illness.  This is a field in which New Zealand has performed badly for many years, as the people of Havelock North would attest.  In this free public lecture, Sir David Skegg argues that failures in public health leadership and action reflect both a lack of political will and inherent weaknesses in the New Zealand public service.

Sir David Skegg is an epidemiologist and public health physician.  He is a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Otago and was President of the Royal Society Te Apārangi from 2012 to 2015.

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