Ministry of Health referral programme achieves staggering reach
A Government health programme has been referred to more than half a million New Zealanders seeking a healthier lifestyle.
The Green Prescription (GRx) Programme, a Ministry of Health referral-based initiative which began in 1998, gets health professional to prescribe patients with written advice on how to be physically active and improve health management.
Since launching more than 500,000 New Zealanders have been referred to the programme for cases like pre-diabetes, heart disease, asthma, arthritis, mental health and weight issues.
A 2016 study by Lincoln and Massey University on the long term effectiveness of the programme revealed participants that had completed it in the past two to three years reported an additional 64 minutes of total physical activity per week compared to those who had not completed the programme in its entirety.
In 2017, almost 50,000 adult referrals were recorded nation wide, 4000 of which were from Auckland Central.
Glen Innes resident Stuart Rarere, 39, weighed close to 200kg in 2015. Rarere, a type 2 diabetic, said being referred to GRx helped him shed 90 kilograms and saved his life.
Sport Auckland's health and wellness business development manager Michael McCormack said there were a variety of reasons someone might receive a Green Prescription from their health professional.
"We have many clients on the programme who don't need to lose weight but may be on the programme to help support their asthma condition or mental health condition for example."
McCormack said results from graduate surveys revealed that 81 per cent of participants now felt more confident doing physical activity and 76 per cent of participants made significant changes to their diet since receiving GRx support.
"Across New Zealand the programme is tailored to suit the demographic and community that the service is being delivered in so that content is both relevant and appropriate to service users."
The GRx programme now also provides physical activity and lifestyle education support programmes for families of obese children aged between 5 to 17 years old, as part of the Ministry of Health's childhood obesity plan.
Health professionals are also on the lookout for children identified as overweight through B4 School Checks.