Lowering gout arthritis for Māori men

By Jessica Tyson

Over 45,000 Māori men have gout arthritis according to a new report released by Arthritis New Zealand.

The organisation says it is a growing health issue for Māori men and is more common in the younger population.

Therefore Arthritis New Zealand CEO Philip Kearney has a goal of reducing the numbers by getting more Māori men on their gout programme.

"Arthritis New Zealand wants to actively develop a model of service delivery with Māori that works for Māori and addresses the need for effective community education and engagement to promote good management of gout arthritis," says Kearney.

Currently only 45 per cent of those diagnosed are in a managed gout programme and Arthritis New Zealand aims to increase that percentage to 90 per cent over the next 20 years.

The cost of arthritis in New Zealand is $12.2 billion dollars and through the programme its hoped it will make over $1 bil in savings over five years.

"We helped develop such a model in Northland working with Manaia and Te Tai Tokerau PHOs and Northland DHB to build co-operation between Community, GPs, pharmacists, nurses and educators, says Kearny.

He says he’s keen to take the model to other regions where gout arthritis is most common including Tairāwhiti, Counties-Manukau, Hawkes Bay, Whānganui and Bay of Plenty.

The myth

Contrary to popular myth, gout arthritis is not caused directly by food and drink. It can occur in otherwise healthy and active young Māori men, due to a genetic pre-disposition to develop gout arthritis it

It is caused by the build-up of uric acid in the body and causes debilitating pain. It is also linked to the development of diabetes and heart disease.

Facts about arthritis

  • 680,000 have arthritis in New Zealand. (2018 projection by Access Economics)
  • 180,000 of these have gout arthritis
  • The overall cost of arthritis in New Zealand is $12.2 billion a year.
  • The most prevalent forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis, gout arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • By 2040 one million kiwis will have arthritis
  • A national model of care for arthritis needs to be developed