More medical help for west Aucklanders

17 December 2001

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has responded to Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey and the local community advisory group's calls for free medical advice for west Aucklanders during and after targeted aerial spraying.

MAF plans low-level helicopter-targeted aerial spraying along the Whau River, Wairau Creek and nearby waterways, Traherne Island, Waikumete Cemetery and Avondale Peninsula.

MAF's independent medical adviser, Dr Francesca Kelly, says a plan has been developed so local residents can easily access free medical advice if they have any worries about the spray or its effects on their health.

"We'll have a team of health professionals available at several different health clinics close to spray zone. They will offer local people free consultations with more choice and more access as well as on the spot medical back up if they need it," she says.

The service, the venues and the times when the painted apple moth medical advisory team is available will be advertised in the local papers.

The health advisory team has set up a medical register through MAF's free phone line (0800 96 9696) and over 60 people have already registered. These people will be phoned before spray days so they can make alternative arrangements if they want to.

Dr Kelly says all GPs in the area are being briefed and updated on the spray programme. "The advisory service is not intended to replace normal medical services, people will be still be responsible for their own health needs."

The medical service will be reviewed and adapted as the painted apple moth eradication programme progresses.

The Auckland District Health Board recently released a draft Health Risk Assessment for consultation. The assessment gave the Foray 48B spray to be used in the moth eradication programme the all clear. It said it did not expect any significant health effects from the spray. After 35 years of use Foray 48B has never been implicated in human infection the report says.

For more information please contact:

MAF's Independent Medical Health Adviser Dr Francesca Kelly Ph: (09) 358 3206 or
Mary-Ann Crawford, MAF communications Ph: (09) 913 1827/MOB 021 648 117

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