e pā ana ki a matou
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Community and Public Health on the West Coast (Greymouth)
Nearly 33,000 people live in the Buller, Grey and Westland Districts – a 400 km long region between the Southern Alps and the Tasman Sea. This makes the West Coast one of the most sparsely populated regions in New Zealand. The remote nature of many small and isolated communities poses specific health challenges around sewage treatment and disposal, and potable water.
The natural beauty of the area attracts more than 1 million visitors a year, largely during the spring and summer months. This level of tourist activity carries some environmental risks for recreational water contamination and infectious diseases, especially in popular destinations such as Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers and Punakaiki. The predominantly young and transient population of tourists and those employed in the tourism industry creates concerns around safe sexual behaviours and responsible alcohol use.
Enabling wellbeing and equity of outcomes for everyone on the West Coast
The health promotion team supports improving and maintaining the health and wellbeing (hauora) of West Coasters by connecting communities and supporting the creation of healthy and sustainable environments (inlcuding early childhood education and schools). Current initiatives focus on:
- mental wellbeing;
- Māori health;
- healthy eating;
- physical activity;
- healthy ageing and injury prevention;
- supporting smoke-free environments; and
- working alongside key stakeholders to reduce alcohol related harm.
Community and Public Health is a partner in Active West Coast – working with District Councils to improve and promote hauora on the West Coast. The Westland Recreation is open and well used by the community, and major developments are occurring in Buller and Westland as part of their new physical activity strategy. Staff are also contributing to the development of a region-wide walking and cycling strategy.
The Greymouth office has a Community Health Information Centre, providing a range of health education resources from the Ministry of Health and other providers.