Arthritis growing health issue for Māori men

A new report has found that over 45,000 Māori men have gout arthritis.

Arthritis New Zealand says it is a growing health issue for Māori men and is more common in the younger Māori population than non-Māori.

Contrary to popular myth, the organisation says gout arthritis is not caused directly by food and drink. 

"Due to a genetic pre-disposition to develop gout arthritis it can occur in otherwise healthy and active young Māori men," the report says.

The arthritis is caused by the build-up of uric acid in the body and is linked to the development of diabetes and heart disease.

The organisation has a goal of reducing numbers by getting more Māori men on their gout programme. 

CEO Philip Kearney says, "Arthritis New Zealand wants to actively develop a model of service delivery with Māori that works for Māori".

The organisation says it has helped develop such a model in Northland, working with Manaia and Te Tai Tokerau Prmary Health Organisations (PHOs) and Northland District Health Board (DHB), and is keen to roll it out in other regions where gout arthritis is most common.

These areas include Tairāwhiti, Counties-Manukau, Hawkes Bay, Whānganui and Bay of Plenty.

It is hoped the programme will make $1bil in savings over five years.

"We believe that the development of a wrap-around education service for people with gout arthritis and their whānau must include education, support, and access to medication to dramatically reduce the toll of gout arthritis on Māori," says Kearney.