Members of Aucklandâ€™s Asian communities are being encouraged to enrol with a general practitioner (GP).
A new public awareness campaign, Your Local Doctor, hopes to address lower than average enrolment rates among people of Asian descent in Auckland.
Waitemata DHB epidemiologist Dr Lifeng Zhou says studies have consistently shown that people with an ongoing relationship with their GP tend to get diagnosed more quickly, and spend less time in hospital.
â€œItâ€™s about keeping people healthy and well. When you have a doctor you trust and see regularly, not only does it ensure that you get the right treatment when you are unwell, but your doctor will have a good idea of your overall health, lifestyle and risk factors to watch out for, such as conditions like heart disease that may run in your family.â€
Most GPs in New Zealand belong to a Primary Health Organisation (PHO), which aim to deliver healthcare services to people in its community at an affordable cost.
Dr Zhou says enrolment is easy and costs nothing.
â€œAll you need to do is complete a simple registration form. If you enroll, you get benefits including cheaper doctorâ€™s fees and a charge of only $3 for each prescription. In some practices and areas, enrolled children under 6 are even seen free.
â€œPeople are also able to access free interpretation services, if required, and the doctorâ€™s practice will include patients who are enrolled for regular check-ups as well as immunisation reminders for their children.
â€œMost importantly, because your GP knows whatâ€™s normal for you, he or she is likely to notice any changes that could indicate health problems.â€
The Your Local Doctor campaign will target the Chinese, Korean and Indian communities â€“ Aucklandâ€™s three largest Asian ethnic groups â€“ through articles and advertising in ethnic media, a dedicated informational website (www.yourlocaldoctor.co.nz), along with posters and leaflets at key community focal points.
In Auckland, the enrollment rate among Asian communities is around 10 per cent lower than the enrolment rate of people of New Zealand European descent.
Dr Zhou says language barriers and a lack of awareness have been cited as the main factors behind the low enrolment rates.
â€œWith immigrants making up the majority of the Asian population in Auckland, the lack of awareness and understanding of the New Zealand health system is understandable. New Zealandâ€™s health system can differ quite significantly from those in Asian countries.
â€œThe Your Local Doctor campaign hopes to raise awareness of how the New Zealand health system works and ultimately, help keep one of the fastest growing population groups in Auckland healthy and well.â€