Media release

Rural people shouldn't be second class citizens with health services

May 26, 2017
A rural health road map which sets out top priorities for healthier rural communities is being explored as one avenue to addressing the challenges the modern day farmer faces.
The Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) got together this week in Wellington for their second annual "Rural Fest’, in partnership with Federated Farmers.
For farmers, focus was on increasing pressure related to industry compliance, and the stress from dealing with frequent and intense adverse events.
The workshop’s principal goal was to give life to the road map, which was developed following the inaugural RuralFest in May last year.
Poor broadband connectivity was also raised, alongside access to health services and a burnt out and ageing rural health workforce with lack of succession planning - all of which are important to keeping farmers connected, and ensuring they have access to services when they need them.
However, it was not necessary a gloomy outlook for farmers, as there was plenty of people outside the rural sector who had a vested interest in famer and rural community wellbeing.
"The bringing together of farmers with midwives, nurses, doctors, pharmacists, district councillors and universities provides a solid platform to discuss the critical issues affecting our rural communities," says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers National Board Member, and RHAANZ council member.
"It is a great opportunity to hear perspectives from every aspect of rural health - from the user point of view through to those charged with delivering the service.
"This is also a chance to put down on paper a range of suggested solutions to those issues, and a workable direction of travel to ensure rural people don’t end up as second class citizens when it comes to health services.
"One of the strong themes was it’s about investing in primary health care in the peacetime - when things are going good - so that when we’re hit by an adverse event we’re more prepared," Katie says.
Following RuralFest, members are being asked to keep the priorities of the rural health road map ‘alive’ in their own regions.