Ko Awatea in Action – Eradicating Rheumatic Fever

It’s almost four months since we gathered at dawn to celebrate the opening of Ko Awatea. Since the centre opened in late June, it has taken 2124 bookings generating 35,143 individual visits. Clearly those visitors have been thirsty – the staff at Wishbone Café have served up 20,090 cups of tea and coffee in that time!

It’s really great to see Ko Awatea becoming part of hospital life and the Middlemore experience. Though I have an office at Lambie Drive, I spend about half my time at Middlemore and use Ko Awatea’s atrium by Wishbone as my base. It’s a really useful space where I can have formal meetings or simply be accessible to staff who want to chat. Lots of people are already taking this opportunity to come and say hello which I think is great. I love the chance to meet staff informally so please, don’t be a stranger if you do see me around!

Of course, Ko Awatea is also our ‘strategic brain’ to tackle challenges using innovation and the best thinking internationally. At a recent meeting of a board subcommittee which looks at community and population health issues (CPHAC), we identified a new and, I think, very exciting challenge which we’ll be using Ko Awatea to address.

Those of us at the CPHAC meeting discussed the new national initiative to reduce rheumatic fever. We had a great presentation from our own public health team, our colleagues in primary care and the University of Auckland. New Zealand is one of very few developed countries to still have a problem with this preventable disease. In Counties Manukau, we get about 50 cases a year. Yet other countries have demonstrated that it should, and can, be eradicated.

As a result of that discussion, we’ve set a really exciting objective for Counties Manukau to be the first district in New Zealand to eradicate rheumatic fever. This is hugely exciting and a very positive development which will require a coordinated approach from CMDHB, primary care, the education sector and other partners. I’m personally excited about this goal because rheumatic fever is such a hugely important public health issue. Eradicating it will have huge benefits for children, families and our community’s quality of life. More on this in the coming months.

I’m also proud of CPHAC’s decision as, yet again, it reflects what a great organisation we are and what a wonderful ‘can do’ attitude we have. Our ability to recognize where we can do better, have a healthy discussion about it, set ourselves ambitious objectives and then achieve them continues to impress me. I can’t wait to add this objective to our list of achievements in Counties Manukau.

Speaking of achievements, congratulations of course to the All Blacks and Wales for their weekend victories. Do I dare dream of an All Blacks vs. Wales final?



Author: Geraint Martin

Geraint Martin was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Counties Manukau DHB in December 2006. It is one of the largest District Health Boards in New Zealand and services a population of half a million. He has significant experience over 30 years in national policy & in managing both primary and secondary care . Previously, he was Director of Health and Social Care Strategy at the Welsh Government .He authored a radical 10 year strategy of reform, including the successful “Saving 1000 lives” Campaign.Until 2004, he was CEO at Kettering General Hospital & had held senior positions in London & Birmingham.He has worked closely with clinicians in improving clinical standards,patient safety,chronic disease management & managing acute care to reduce hospital demand.In NZ, He has promoted clinical quality and leadership as central to improving patientcare. This has led to a significant increases in productivity and access, whilst maintaining financial balance. CMH has completed in 2014 a $500 m capital redevelopment programme, the largest in New Zealand. A central part of this is the establishment of Ko Awatea,the Centre for Innovation and Research which will underpin CMH as one of the the leading health systems in Australasia.In 2008, he chaired the Ministerial Review of Emergency Care in New Zealand, and in 2013 was an member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Health Sector Performance. Geraint has an MSc in Health Policy from Birmingham University .His post-graduate work has focused on health economics and Corporate Strategy . He is adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management at AUT and Victoria University, Wellington Elected in 2006 as a Companion of the Institute of Healthcare Management, previously he was an Associate Fellow at Birmingham University.He is is Chair of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, a member of the Institute of Directors, on the Board of the NZ Institute of Health Management & previously the Board of The NZ Health Quality and Safety Commission.

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