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Although the burden of infectious diseases seems to be decreasing in developed countries, few national studies have measured the total incidence of these diseases. We aimed to develop and apply a robust systematic method for monitoring the epidemiology of serious infectious diseases.
We did a national epidemiological study with all hospital admissions for infectious and non-infectious diseases in New Zealand from 1989 to 2008, to investigate trends in incidence and distribution by ethnic group and socioeconomic status. We extended a recoding system based on the ninth revision of international classification of diseases (ICD-9) to the tenth revision (ICD-10), and applied this to data for hospital admissions from the New Zealand Ministry of Health, National Minimum Dataset. We filtered results to account for changes in health-care practices over time. Acute overnight admissions were the events of interest.
Infectious diseases made the largest contribution to hospital admissions of any cause. Their contribution increased from 20·5% of acute admissions in 1989-93, to 26·6% in 2004-08. We noted clear ethnic and social inequalities in infectious disease risk. In 2004-08, the age-standardised rate ratio was 2·15 (95% CI 2·14-2·16) for Māori (indigenous New Zealanders) and 2·35 (2·34-2·37) for Pacific peoples compared with the European and other group. The ratio was 2·81 (2·80-2·83) for the most socioeconomically deprived quintile compared with the least deprived quintile. These inequalities have increased substantially in the past 20 years, particularly for Māori and Pacific peoples in the most deprived quintile.
These findings support the need for stronger prevention efforts for infectious diseases, and reinforce the need to reduce ethnic and social inequalities and to address disparities in broad social determinants such as income levels, housing conditions, and access to health services. Our method could be adapted for infectious disease surveillance in other countries.
New Zealand Ministry of Health, New Zealand Health Research Council.
The Lancet 02/2012; 379(9821):1112-9. DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)61780-7 · 39.21 Impact Factor
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This paper reports on health inequalities awareness-raising workshops conducted with senior New Zealand health sector staff as part of the Government's goal of reducing inequalities in health, education, employment and housing.
The workshops were based on a multi-method needs assessment with senior staff in key health institutions. The workshops aimed to increase the knowledge and skills of health sector staff to act on, and advocate for, eliminating inequalities in health. They were practical, evidence-based, and action oriented and took a social approach to the causes of inequalities in health. The workshops used ethnicity as a case study and explored racism as a driver of inequalities. They focused on the role of institutionalized racism, or racism that is built into health sector institutions. Institutional theory provided a framework for participants to analyse how their institutions create and maintain inequalities and how they can act to change this.
Participants identified a range of institutional mechanisms that promote inequalities and a range of ways to address them including: undertaking further training, using Māori (the indigenous people) models of health in policy-making, increasing Māori participation and partnership in decision making, strengthening sector relationships with iwi (tribes), funding and supporting services provided 'by Māori for Māori', ensuring a strategic approach to intersectoral work, encouraging stronger community involvement in the work of the institution, requiring all evaluations to assess impact on inequalities, and requiring the sector to report on progress in addressing health inequalities. The workshops were rated highly by participants, who indicated increased commitment to tackle inequalities as a result of the training.
Government and sector leadership were critical to the success of the workshops and subsequent changes in policy and practice. The use of locally adapted equity tools, requiring participants to develop action plans, and using a case study to focus discussion were important to the success for the training. Using institutional theory was helpful in analysing how drivers of inequalities, such as racism, are built into health institutions. This New Zealand experience provides a model that may be applicable in other jurisdictions.
International Journal for Equity in Health 02/2007; 6:12. DOI:10.1186/1475-9276-6-12 · 1.71 Impact Factor