Diabetes, heart health huge problem in North

May 1, 2021

A nurse-led symposium to help Northland nurses working in primary care develop their skills working with long-term conditions such as diabetes and poor heart health last month had an “overwhelming” response.

Bill Davis and Maree Sheard
Left: Bill Davis speaks to the symposium about his experiences as a diabetes patient. Right: New Northland District Health Board chief nurse Maree Sheard urged nurses to step forward as leaders.

It was led by Northland primary health organisation, Mahitahi Haoura. Its nurse director, Josephine Davis, said 95 nurses attended from general practices and Māori health providers from all over Tai Tokerau. More than 120 nurses were involved in total, including presenters and planners. “That is a huge response. Most of these nurses gave up their own time in the weekend to be there.”

‘Northland has some of the worst diabetes and heart health outcomes in New Zealand, particularly among Māori. Nurses were asking for support in this area.’

She said Mahitahi Hauora believed nurses needed more support to tackle diabetes and heart health, which were a huge problem in the region. “Northland has some of the worst diabetes and heart health outcomes in New Zealand, particularly among Māori. Nurses were asking for support in this area.”

New Northland District Health Board chief nurse Maree Sheard urged nurses to step forward as leaders. “What we need are leaders stepping forward who have the knowledge and the confidence to be able to say ‘I can do this’,” she said. “This is our time. We can step up. But we need to have that knowledge, the confidence and the frameworks to support us.”

The day included an interview with a Māori man about his experiences with type 2 diabetes and a presentation on the “predict” tool used in primary health care to screen and manage patients with diabetes and heart conditions.

Mahitahi Hauora nurse director Hemaima Reihana-Tait spoke about the importance of mauri ora – connecting with patients.