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Public Health newsletter for schools

Welcome to read Public Health’s latest newsletter for schools - March 2019, Issue 20. The latest edition includes information about HPV Immunisation, World Oral Health Day, Healthy School Lunch Ideas, Deppression In Children And Adolescents, Smokefree Vehicles and more. We encourage schools to share the health and wellbeing information in our newsletters with all staff, parents, families/whānau and caregivers - through their own newsletters and notice boards, or through copies being sent or emailed home.

Wacky Water Day 2019 in Roslyn

Wacky Water Day 2019 was another successful day for the Roslyn community.  Many families came out to enjoy free entry to the Freyberg pool, a giant water slide, tag of war and the foam cannon, just to name a few of the activities on offer. 

Public Health collaborated with the Heart Foundation to promote healthy lunch box ideas, oral health and smoke free cars. New World Melody’s kindly donated a box of fresh juicy apples that were enjoyed by kids and adults alike.

We look forward to supporting this awesome event again in 2020!


Public Health Health promoters joined the Army in February..


Well, for half a day at least! Staff participated in a recent “Wellness Expo” held at Linton Army Camp for Army personnel and whānau.
The theme of the programme was “Healthy Relationships at Work and at Home”.
Public Health’s Julie Beckett, Martin Macmaster and Sigrid Lindbom staffed their stand with the assistance of Sacha Malkin from Family Planning.

Martin promoted messages around Alcohol Safety (limiting supply of alcohol to minors and not drinking during pregnancy). Julie promoted Quit Smoking services and just so happened to meet a young female soldier who’d successfully quit following a conversation at last year’s Expo!
Sigrid and Sacha promoted Sexual Health messages  which involved a Beer Goggle slalom race around traffic cones (to mimic the affects of alcohol on your ability to stay co-ordinated) to then see who could put a condom on a demonstrator successfully in the fastest time which was competitive and entertaining for the competitors colleagues watching.
Overall the team interacted with several hundred of those passing through during the day (estimated at around 1,000) and felt it was an even better attended than the last year’s event.

“No Mother Intends To Harm Her Children.”


Yet recent research found that almost a quarter of women continued to drink after becoming pregnant and 71% drank alcohol before they knew they were pregnant.( New Zealand Medical Journal, NZ Herald )
This puts babies at risk of FASD!!
What is FASD?
FASD is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.  This is the name given to the problems a baby may have if the mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy. Problems can include brain damage and physical birth defects. Problems may be seen after birth, or they may not be noticeable until the child is school-age. A child with FASD faces lifelong challenges.
How can drinking harm your baby?
 When you’re pregnant, every time you drink alcohol, your baby is drinking alcohol too. All alcohol is carried in your blood stream, through the placenta, to your baby. Your baby can’t break down alcohol like you can. Along with the long-term problems that may result, your baby is more likely to be born prematurely and you are more likely to lose your baby through a miscarriage or stillbirth.
Can you drink at all?
No, there is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink during pregnancy. It’s advised not to drink any alcohol when pregnant. Alcohol can harm a baby’s development at any stage of the pregnancy. This can be even before you know that you are pregnant. If you’re trying to get pregnant, or there’s a chance you could be pregnant, don’t drink any type of alcohol.
What if you drank alcohol before you found out you were pregnant?
It’s never too late to stop drinking. This will increase the chance of your baby being healthy. Talk to your midwife or GP if you’re worried about it.
“If you’re going to have a baby, you want it to be the best it can be. Stopping your alcohol intake would be a good step.”
“Don’t Know – Don’t Drink”
The Health Promotion Agency has information on its website and also a “Don’t Know – Don’t Drink” campaign with its own Facebook and Instagram pages. These not only have good advice but put the serious message in a humourous, relatable way.
Partners and whanau can play an important role in supporting a pregnant woman to be alcohol free.
They can support by – joining her in being alcohol-free; discouraging others from offering alcoholic drinks; making sure there are non-alcoholic drinks available at parties and gatherings.

If a pregnant woman is finding it hard to stop drinking they can get help by talking to their midwife, doctor, nurse or other health professional, or contact the Alcohol Drug Helpline is also here for you. Contact them on 0800 787 797, or free text 8681, 24 hours, 7 days a week.

By switching our sugary drinks to water, we can move towards being a healthier community!


Why switch to water?
• Its brewed by nature
• Free from calories
• No chemicals, sugars or preservatives
• It's free
• Available on tap

Mid Central DHB would like to support the New Zealand Dental Association’s (NZDA) ‘Switch to Water campaign’. This year Olympian Eliza McCartney is the ambassador for the campaign. Participants are invited to take the challenge by switching their sugary drinks with water for 30 days.

Switching to water can be habit that you might just stick with. This campaign has options for individuals, schools and workplaces.
All participating schools will be eligible to go in the draw to win; Olympian Eliza McCartney school visit, $500 towards a water fountain, $500 towards sports equipment, All participating workplaces will be eligible to go in the draw to win $500 towards a team building activity


Tongan Women's Day in Levin

Public Health participated in a recent “Tongan Women’s Day”. It was community initiated by Ana Fifita-Tovo (Levin) and supported by Yvonne Hewson (Whakapai Hauora). It was a day-long event that was well attended by the community and other health providers.  
Public Health’s Julie Beckett promoted Wahakura and Pepi-pods highlighting safe sleeping practices for babies and the importance of being a smokefree fanau. 
In terms of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI), Pasifika peoples have a 4x increased risk of SUDI vs the general population. Only Māori are higher with a 6x increased risk.
The pēpi-pod™ or Wahakura is provided as part of an education programme to assist families/fanau to continue to care for their baby in a way that is cognisant of their cultural integrity but reduces the risk of a SUDI.
The Tongan Women’s Day provided an opportunity to gauge fanau interest in developing a Tongan styled Wahakura. 18/21 fanau surveyed wanted more information. One barrier identified was how to gather the flax in a culturally appropriate manner.
Fay Selby–Law (SUDI prevention, Hapai Te Hauora – Māori Public Health) was then consulted. A weaver (based in Levin) has now been confirmed to support the Tongan women’s group. PHS’s role now will be in a supporting/facilitating role only. 


Positive Inclusion Award Winner

MDHB staff members Sigrid Lindbom, Emmett Roberts and Rochelle Shadbolt along with Enable New Zealand's Jay Khutze (2nd from left), with Diversity Works Chairman Michael Barnett.

Public Health has been part of setting up the MDHB Rainbow Forum to create supportive environments for gender and sexual diverse minorities. As a result of a number of staff-led initiatives, MidCentral DHB has now won an award for workplace inclusivity as part of the 2018 Diversity Awards run by Diversity Works New Zealand. The Positive Inclusion Award recognises organisations that demonstrate the importance of building diverse teams and are committed to inclusive policies and practices. 


Levin Pasifika Workshop – 5 September 2018.

The Public Health, Health Promotion Unit with support from Pasifika for Tomorrow - Levin hosted and conducted a health workshop for the Horowhenua Pasifika community on 5 September at the Community Hub office, at 32 Bristol Street, Levin.

As anticipated the workshop went really well, which was attended by more than 25 people all found the topics really very beneficial. 
Including those within the community from Kiribati, who had never attended or heard anything like this before.

The topics were well selected and the speakers from The Diabetes Trust, Heart Foundation and PHO presented their subjects in everyday language which helped people understand it really easily.

Despite topics on oral health and nutrition and healthy lifestyle being delivered there were suggestions for more topics such as family health, weight loss, stroke, heart attack for the next workshop. They also wanted to have more of these types of educational programmes to help their Pasifika community in Levin.

Some of the comments received about the speakers were:  “clear, well spoken, perfect, understandable, amazing, were able to provide answers to all questions, well prepared.

Overall comments received were: “excellent, awesome, love to hear more, great, wonderful, fantastic, very important meeting, very happy....”.
PH Health Promoter Nirmala Nand was happy to have connected with and have been supported by the Pasifika for Tomorrow group and wishes to continue building and maintaining the relationship and work together in the future.

Pasifika workshops held at the Pasifika Centre, Bill Brown Park, Highbury in Palmerston North


Hidden Sugars health promotion display

Two very successful workshops were delivered by the Pacific Health Promoter Nirmala Nand, in Palmerston North in April and August this year, attended by more than 50 pacific people. The workshop was supported by Papaioea Pacific Community Trust (PPCT), PHO and sponsored by Public Health Unit, MidCentral DHB.

Topics delivered and discussed ranged from hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, mental, maternal and oral health and nutrition, health eating for children, adults and elderly.
Some of the attendees had good knowledge on some of the topics, others were keen and excited to learn new things while others with existing health issues were already on healthy choices of food and medications.

Participants really appreciated the health messages and said they had all learnt something new and acknowledged the need to start watching their eating habits and lifestyle practices more closely.

We received very encouraging comments for the presenters and appreciation for the work of the health promoter working closely with the Pasifika community which was also reciprocated by the presenters.

Nirmala Nand wishes to acknowledge and record her special appreciation to all the speakers, the PPCT, PHO team, and the health promotion team, for all the support and assistance provided to conduct these workshops for the Pasifika community in Palmerston North. 

NZ Army Wellness Expo at Linton Camp 2018


PH Health Promoter Julie Beckett engaging with Military Staff attendee
PH Health Promoter Julie Beckett engaging with Military Staff attendee

Public Health participated in a recent “Wellness Expo” held by the Army at Linton Camp for its staff and whanau.

It was a day-long event that all staff were encouraged and enabled to attend.  The slogan on the programme was “Your Health and Wellbeing is an investment, not an expense” and there were speakers on wellbeing, as well as Health and Fitness and holistic health.  There were also Fitness challenges and other competitions to engage the staff, and a variety of organisations presenting information on associated topics. 

The gymnasium had 50+ stands representing organisations ranging from the likes of Public Health – with health messages and information – through education providers, IRD, mortgage brokers, schools and travel agents.

Public Health’s Julie Beckett and Martin Macmaster staffed their stand which promoted a number of health messages. 

The “How much sugar is in that product?” messages were very popular, with many people being surprised and horrified at the information.  (Did you know a 600ml soft drink has 16 teaspoons of sugar and a 1.25 litre bottle of “fizzy has 33 tsps?)  The messages around alcohol included promoting the Nil consumption of alcohol if you’re pregnant (or might be) and encouraging people to limit supply of alcohol to young people.  Many were surprised to learn that only parents or legal guardians can supply minors with alcohol. Anyone else needs the “express consent” of the parent or guardian and any supply to minors, by anyone, has to be in a “responsible manner”.

Given the demographics of the soldiers, and the Defence Force’s commitment to going smokefree, our other main focus was disseminating information about smoking – particularly promoting the local Quit Smoking organisation - Te Ohu Auahi Mutunga (TOAM).  Julie had some useful conversations – getting a good feel for the issues they face – and made a number of referrals for people keen to quit.

Overall we spoke to a couple of hundred of the 900 odd attendees during the day and felt it was a worthwhile day for all concerned. 

Thanks to Linton Camp school for the scones and the Army caterers for the lessons on making Quesadillas!


Ka pū te ruha, Ka hao te rangatahi

Rangatahi Symposium Selfie Booth

MDHB Hauora mō te Iwi Public Health Unit was out in force to promote careers in Public Health to Māori youth from 5 Secondary Schools in the Horowhenua area at the Levin Events Centre.

The day was designed to show the youth what is on offer in terms of employment and study towards a career in the Health sector when they leave school.

Employment and Education are important social health determinants and development of the Māori workforce is also a key area in Aotearoa in reducing inequalities in health for Māori.

Special mention to the Muaūpoko Tribal Authority and the Rūnanga o Raukawa Whānau Ora teams for organising and putting on a fantastic day for all involved.

For information about careers in Public Health head to:

We’re going where the air is clean!
Auahi Kore sign

The latest maps of New Zealand Councils Smokefree Outdoor Policies and Spaces have been launched.

This is a key resource for those in the tobacco control sector and may be used to support discussions with Health Ministers regarding the need for National legislation for Smokefree Outdoor dining. As the map shows, there is a real patchwork of inconsistencies, involved when some 70 LA’s act separately. For instance, in our region PNCC has a S/F outdoor dining bylaw and you drive 15 minutes down the road and MDC has green spaces. Leadership from Government on National legislation for smokefree outdoor dining could avoid this and would provide a clear national level playing field. The legislation would provide much needed help for accelerating progress towards the Government’s Smokefree 2025 goal. This would also reduce the workload for the tobacco control sector; we could focus more on reducing supply.
This resource can also be used to help the public find Smokefree outdoor parks, playgrounds, dining areas and beaches in their area that are controlled by Local Authorities (LAs) but also includes those business owners who have also volunteered to become a Smokefree as well.
Do you know of any outdoor Smokefree places we may not know about?
Get it put on the New Zealand Councils Smokefree Outdoor Policies and Spaces map by contacting Martin Witt:
For more information you can email Julie Beckett at the MDHB Public Health Unit:
Want to know where you can go to play, relax or dine in a Smokefree Outdoor Areas environment?
Click here to read the editorial or click below to access the New Zealand Councils Smokefree Outdoor Policies and Spaces maps

Water Only for Tokomaru School

Tokomaru School Logo
A ‘water only’ school takes the required steps to ensure that the only beverages permitted at school or during school events are water and plain reduced fat milk.
Principal Sonia Mudgway of Tokomaru School made the decision to go water only after collecting up to 30 empty bottles of fizzy drink at lunchtimes. “Many children were bringing in fizzy and juice everyday.  I made it clear to the children and their parents at our assemblies, that these drinks don't belong at our school".

After gaining the support of the school community, including the local dairy, positive changes have included students drinking more water and being more focused in the classroom as well as a change in attitude. Sonia said, "water has become the norm now. It's cool to have a water bottle and to use the drinking fountain”.

Any school wanting support or to learn more about becoming water-only can check out the Water-only Schools toolkit on the DHB website
or ring the Public Health team on (06) 350 9110 or the Heart Foundation on 06-358 7745.


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