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Prioritising health in the Western Bay

Five programmes have been funded to help improve the health of those living in the Western Bay of Plenty. File photo.

The Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation is funding a series of “Living Well” programmes to improve the health of people living in the Western Bay’s hard-to-reach communities.

The PHO’s chief executive officer, Roger Taylor, says the programmes aim to improve people’s access to healthcare and to help them to manage their own health more effectively.

“We’re helping people change their lifestyles to improve their long-term health and wellbeing,” he says.

Starting this month, the PHO is backing the Pacific Island Community Trust with $55,000 for project called It Starts With Us.

This will arm local Pacific Island people with the skills and knowledge to be more active physically and to eat more healthily, reducing the risks associated with obesity.

The Trust’s chief executive officer, Delwyn Walker, says the initiative will initially include physical programmes for 15 people of various ages over three months, followed by another 15 people every quarter.

The programme will draw on the natural environment for exercise, using walking tracks at Mauao, Otanewainuku, Papamoa Hills and Waikareao.

It will also use venues including the Tauranga Aquatic Centre’s Baywave and Greerton pools, and a gymnasium that allows access to a commercial kitchen for classes encouraging healthier eating.

There will also be a focus on education, with regular monitoring and health-progress checks by a registered nurse who will be overseeing the programme.

“The key message is eating better in combination with more physical exercise,” Delwyn says.

“The ultimate goal is for this message to spread through the community. It’s exciting for us to see our people becoming more active.”

Some 9000 to 13,000 Pacific Islanders were estimated to live in Tauranga and the Western Bay as of 2013, with the population growing strongly in Katikati and Te Puke.

The programme is expected to have long-term benefits for the wider community by reducing the need for health interventions for diabetes and heart disease

Also this month, the WBOP PHO is spending $3500 to buy 200 to 300 pedometers for the Farm St Health Centre as part of a strategy to encourage people to walk 10,000 steps a day.

Next month, the WBOP PHO will fund a $45,000 mental health programme through the Waipu Hauora. The goal is to grow strong, healthy whanau who are able to make better decisions, with more confidence.

Late last year, the WBOP PHO bought a $29,000 van for Ngati Kahu Hauora to provide transport for people who have difficulty attending medical services.

Western Bay of Plenty PHO “Living Well” programmes:

• “It Starts With Us” exercise/eating programme for Pacific Islanders

• Mental health programme through Waipu Hauora

• 200-300 pedometers for the Farm St Health Centre

• Health-related transport for Ngati Kahu Hauora

• A mental health initiative yet to be announced

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