Health Needs Assessment update released

30 July 2014

Whanganui and Manawatu’s high number of Māori, social and economically disadvantaged people and older residents have created a region with higher health needs than regions in other parts of New Zealand says MidCentral District Health Board (MDHB) health information and data quality clinical advisor Richard Fong.
Also the author of the region’s recently released annual health needs assessment, Dr Fong says these factors have a significant influence on the general health status of the populations served by the Whanganui and MidCentral District Health Boards.
Dr Fong says the fact that socio-economic disadvantage is associated with poorer health status implies that the MidCentral, and especially the Whanganui populations, would have a poorer health status than the New Zealand average.
The report examined Otago University’s NZDep2013 mapping of areas of socio-economic disadvantage, as they apply to Whanganui, MidCentral and New Zealand overall. The NZDep2013 study rates small geographical areas from decile 1 (the least socio-economically disadvantaged) to decile 10 (the most disadvantaged).
Dr Fong says MidCentral’s population shows greater socio-economic disadvantage than New Zealand’s wider population with higher proportions of the population living in areas with NZDep 2013 decile ratings 7 to 10; and lower proportions living in decile 1 to 4 areas.
However, Whanganui’s population shows greater social-economic disadvantages than MidCentral with its very low percentages in decile 1, and very high in decile 10, and the fact that almost one in five Whanganui residents live in a decile 10 area (over 18 percent).
Dr Fong’s report also provided an update on ‘amenable mortality’  (deaths from conditions amenable to preventative or health service intervention in people under 74 years old) which showed that MidCentral, Whanganui and New Zealand’s amenable mortality rates all trended downwards from 2002 to 2010.
“MidCentral’s yearly rates are consistently higher than New Zealand rates and Whanganui’s yearly rates are consistently higher than both MidCentral and New Zealand – a pattern which is consistent with the differences in socio-economic status among all three populations,” Dr Fong says.
“How successful MidCentral and Whanganui DHBs are in improving their populations’ health depends on how successful they are in catering for high needs population groups.”
Key points from the recently released district health board-related 2013 Census data include:
  • Whanganui’s population declined between the years – 2006 (62,208) to 60,120 in 2013 – a 3.4 percent decline.
  • MidCentral’s population increased from the 2006 Census (158,841), to the 2013 Census population of 162,564 – an increase of 2.3 percent. New Zealand’s population increased by 5.3 percent for the same period.
  • Both MDHB and WDHB have higher proportions of older people compared to New Zealand (16.5 percent, 18.2 percent, and 14.3 percent respectively). Older people generally have higher health needs than younger people.
  • The age balances of WDHB, MDHB and New Zealand continue to age, with higher proportions of older people and smaller proportions of younger people.
  • MDHB, and particularly WDHB, have higher proportions of Maori residents than New Zealand overall (17.4 percent, 23.5 percent, and 14.1 percent respectively).
  • Regular cigarette smoking continues to decline for Whanganui, MidCentral and New Zealand. Whanganui regular smoking proportions were slightly higher than MidCentral’s, which in turn were slightly higher than New Zealand’s (18.1 percent, 15.4 percent, and 13.7 percent respectively). But all three experienced declines in regular smoking from 2006 to 2013.
  • Whanganui and MidCentral have lower median household incomes compared to New Zealand. Whanganui’s median income in 2013 was $45,700 and MidCentral’s was $52,200 compared to New Zealand’s $63,800.