On Friday October 9th, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize will be announced.
At the moment Jacinda Ardern is the bookies’ 3rd favourite – behind Greta Thunberg.
If Prime Minister Ardern were to get it for anything, it will be for her leadership response to the national health crisis response to COVID19.
This response included a $500 million for assessment centres, equipment and logistics; public health contact tracing; technology for doctors to do online assessments; and expanding Healthline. I must admit that the test was disgusting – but the team were totally professional and the result was really fast.
Personally I think she needs the award for the big pay increases to doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers. And more of them – with over 2,000 new nurses and over 1,000 more doctors. And making doctor visits cheaper for 600,000 New Zealanders. Plus a largest-ever funding increase for mental health – $455 million – and suicide prevention and support.
In the health achievements I’d also put her setting up the inquiry into historic institutional abuse. May all the submitters feel a little overdue vindication.
And I’d also put on the health achievements the massive gun buyback and big limitations on owning firearms. And the way she treated the bereaved and injured after the Christchurch massacre: together we were led to choose the path that was not rage, and she smothered the source of our rage with resolute silence.
No doubt the Simpson Report will be quickly forgotten as we keep simply having to adjust to this new way of COVID19 life across our health and security systems worldwide. No doubt Christchurch DHB is a mess on their watch, and Dunedin Hospital is taking far, far too long to turn into something that will be both built and running successfully. Also, Minister Clark was weak and Ardern carried him far too long, and Chippie is competent but waaay overloaded.
But on top of their health achievements this term achievements they have now announced more.
Back in my day there was a dental nurse at the school in their own clinic. We made our own filling amalgam while we waited with a deep glass mortar and pestle. I don’t know where those clinics went. So Labour is investing in a lot more mobile dental clinics – that gets to a lot more of the groups who statistically don’t get seen or treated – such as Maori children.
Health services demands are of course never-ending, but in this country at least public health has dominated our politics with the government taking it incredibly seriously. Health has been raised to a national security issue. The result has dominated our election as at no other time. Health policy growing and responding to crisis is the primary reason Labour is leading in the polls and on current trend to form the next government. It is their strongest area of policy formation, funding, and execution that this government has delivered. And no other party or leader came within a Rugby paddock length of her performance either.
So it’s good that the Nobel Committee has noticed how strong and clear our Prime Minister has led health in New Zealand.
If just for her health policy for New Zealand, we should vote Ardern and the party she leads back in again.