At least 640,000 Kiwis live rurally (14% of our population), making our rural population effectively New Zealand’s second-largest city. Unfortunately, it is a city with lots of health issues simmering below the surface.
Nature, isolation, stress and long, hard hours takes their toll on the health of people living and working in rural settings. Use of health services drops as distance from them increases, and this drop is even higher for secondary or preventative health services.
Rural people have fewer diagnostic tests, cardiovascular referrals and prescriptions, less preventive care and lower health screening rates. Rural areas often have problems maintaining GP and pharmacy services.
Rural people need to cope with significant changes, more so than urban dwellers. They need to face up to changes in the rural industry (such as the massive growth in dairy farming, arrival of M-bovis etc), demographics with younger rural people moving away, climate change and natural disasters, and economic, political and social changes.
New Zealand’s Rural Population is 14%
These special challenges make it important for rural people to pay even greater attention to their health. Just like farmers check and maintain farm equipment, so they need to check and maintain their most important asset, their health.