Speakers Liz Read and Christine Briasco.
Public health nursing in Aotearoa New Zealand has its roots in Māori health. Originally named ‘Māori health nurses’ or ‘native health nurses’, these nursing pioneers formed the ‘public health workforce’ and were tasked with reaching Māori in remote communities of New Zealand. In the 1800s, introduced diseases swept through whole communities with devastating results.
Outbreaks of influenza, tuberculosis and typhoid affected the whole country, but the impact on Māori was disproportionately worse, especially in rural areas. With limited resources and unimaginable stamina, public health nurses faced the everyday reality of death and dying, abject poverty and despair.
In contemporary times, the unequal impact of disease on Māori has remained constant, with the infectious diseases of the past being replaced by the preventable chronic illnesses of the 21st century. At the same time, Public Health Nurses face burgeoning global health issues, which affect the health of other vulnerable populations as well.
Experienced Public Health Nurses, Liz Read and Christine Briasco will describe how they take a whole-of-population health approach by working collaboratively with a range of organisations from a range of sectors to improve the health and wellbeing of communities that they work with. Public health nurses are often the first people to identify significant social trends in a community and recognise the impact such trends have on the health and wellbeing of individuals, whānau and communities.
While the public health nurse’s scope of practice is broad and can be difficult to define there is an underlying philosophy of care that focuses on social justice, reducing the inequalities in health and access to care; commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi; and working to improve the health outcomes for the most vulnerable groups in society.