Kia ora koutou. Greetings to you all.
I want to acknowledge: Hon Todd McClay, Associate Minister of Health; Scott Simpson MP, our host this evening; Brian Poole, Chair of Crohn’s and Colitis New Zealand, and your chief executive Julia Gallagher; and Associate Professor Richard Geary, Clinical Adviser to CCNZ.
As the new Patron of Crohn’s and Colitis New Zealand I’m delighted to be here at Parliament Buildings for the opening of this photographic exhibition, Join the Fight against IBD.
Crohn’s and Colitis New Zealand was launched here at Parliament just three years ago this month . It was established to respond to the needs of Crohn’s and colitis sufferers across New Zealand – to lift a social taboo, the secrecy surrounding problems with the bowel. It now gives a voice to the thousands of New Zealanders who live with inflammatory bowel disease, who have suffered in silence from the often debilitating symptoms they experience.
The lack of accessible information meant that some people dismissed their symptoms until their condition became chronic, required surgery, and resulted in a poor quality of life. The low profile of Crohn’s and Colitis also meant the symptoms were sometimes missed, especially among younger people, and sufferers were not referred for early specialist care. Like many health conditions, early diagnosis and treatment can often result in better outcomes.
In three years, Crohn’s and Colitis New Zealand has done a sterling job in raising the profile of a disease that for a host of reasons just doesn’t grab the headlines. But that is finally changing. Sam Sword’s stunning photographic exhibition, and the release of the results of CCNZ’s survey of those living with IBD are all doing much to ensure there is better information available. I want to congratulate everyone for the work they have done to date.
In agreeing to be your patron, I hope that my support will add to your efforts, and help you achieve your vision - a future free of IBD - where patients and their families are empowered, their lives made more liveable for them, and the disease is no longer a subject of mystery or ridicule.
Again, congratulations for the work you do and for putting the exhibition together. I also thank you for inviting me here this evening.