Duncan Garner: Health funding needed for grassroots providers

Opinion 05/03/2019

OPINION: The childhood obesity report out this morning says we're not moving anywhere too fast and, when we do move somewhere, it might be via the fridge.

Yes, there was a decline in childhood obesity in 48 of 78 communities that took part - but only by 1 percent, barely noticeable.

So what's happening in the other 30 communities? Not enough. And, in many cases, people are slowly killing themselves by eating and not moving. 

Then there's diabetes - a ticking time bomb that costs our hospitals big time. 

I'm talking South Auckland, Manurewa, Waitomo, Manukau, obese kids are more likely to be from those places. 

They're most likely to be Maori or Pacific Islander and from poorer households.

The less obese are wealthier, predominantly Pakeha or Asian; they're more likely to be eating fresh fruit and veges. This is probably not news to you.

But this will be, and hopefully you're as frustrated as me: My mate Dave Letele - the Brown Butterbean - he runs his own bootcamps targeting South and West Auckland. It's his business, he was a finalist in New Zealander of the year, honestly this man is saving lives, and turning lives around.

His story is authentic. At 210 kilograms he'd blown out. Now he's just 105kg, pretty much a gazelle by his standards. 

But, here's the thing, no one pays him.

He gets some tiny private funding to cover a few costs but this hero of South and West Auckland is living on his savings while he turns other lives around. 

Case in point, one bloke Phil arrived at 315kg, now he's 180kg and dropping. 

Dave is saving the taxpayer millions by turning these lives around, and saving the expensive surgery and hospital visits in five years.

So why can't he get Government funding? The health ministry? ACC? Pacific island affairs? Whanau ora? There are pockets of money everywhere for this sort of thing and Dave, and dozens of others like him, should be getting some of it.

Hundreds of hospital admissions won't happen because of him, so let's pay for it now. The bill will be smaller in the long run.

Duncan Garner is the host of The AM Show.