It is vital that patients are at the centre of our health system, and receive the healthcare they need. My predecessor the Honourable Tony Ryall, spoke at your last six conferences, and I know that a lot has changed in the past seven years.
As you are all well aware, medicines play a central role in the health and independence of New Zealanders. Used in a safe and effective way, medicines can prevent ill health, treat illness, support self-management and enhance length and quality of life.
We are all aware that New Zealand has one of the best health systems in the world. We are also aware that despite this we are faced with increasing levels of chronic diseases caused by poor lifestyle choices as well as an ageing population. This is why the work and promotion of self-care to our populations is so important.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says the annual report on Implementing the New Zealand Health Strategy 2014 shows that public health and disability services continue to offer better access to safe and effective care.
Good morning and thank you for the invitation to open the New Zealand Respiratory Conference for 2014, A breath of hope. I opened this conference two years ago, and I am very pleased to be here again in this 50th anniversary year of the Asthma Foundation – a great achievement.