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Will cross-party political debate help stop the heartbreak?

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Heart Foundation is calling on political parties to act now to address New Zealand’s biggest killer - cardiovascular disease - which accounts for 40% of all deaths in New Zealand every year.

On 17 October Guyon Espiner, from TV3’s political programme 3rd Degree, will host a pre-election heart health debate at The Royal Society in Wellington, featuring Hon. Jo Goodhew - Associate Minister of Health; Hon. Annette King - Labour Spokesperson for Health; Kevin Hague - Green Party MP and the Hone Harawira - Mana Party MP.

With the growing epidemics of obesity and diabetes causing a new wave of heart disease across New Zealand, the Heart Foundation is asking leaders to make some bold decisions and take a visionary approach to stop the heartbreak caused by the 90,000 years of life lost annually. This includes introducing a cardiovascular disease (CVD) strategy as well as a food and nutrition plan for children within the health manifestos of each political party leading up to the 2014 elections.

"With cardiovascular disease resulting in 27 deaths a day, it is paramount that these issues are addressed in the health manifestos of each political party ahead of the next election," says Heart Foundation Medical Director, Professor Norman Sharpe. "This is an important time for political parties to address what must be done to save lives now, but also ensure our children and grandchildren have a bright future free of heart disease and ill-health," he says.

With the implementation of a national food and nutrition plan for children being at the forefront of the issues, the Heart Foundation is working closely with Linden School in Tawa, Wellington, who will themselves debate the issues ahead of main political event on Tuesday 15 October. Judged by Professor Sharpe, the winner of the school’s debate will be invited to speak in the pre-election manifesto debate on the 17 October 2013.

Discussion agendas:

- Ensure all eligible adults have a heart check and appropriate ongoing support to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease

- Increase public awareness of heart attack signs and symptoms

- Improve the quality of heart treatment services and equality of access of these services

- Ensure DHBs provide a range of services accessible to all people, that support lifelong changes following a heart attack

- Stop the next generation of New Zealanders developing heart disease by implementing a national food and nutrition plan for children with actions like introducing a tax on sugary soft drinks and regulating advertising of unhealthy foods to children

- Get rid of tobacco

- Eradicate rheumatic fever

- Encourage lifelong physical activity.

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