WELLINGTON, June 29 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman launched a national strategy on Thursday which aims to lift the rate of deceased organ donations and therefore increase the number of people who can receive a transplant.
The Deceased Organ Donation and Transplantation National Strategy follow wide public consultation and work with the sector.
"Organ transplantation is a life-saving treatment that is often the best, or only, option for people with organ failure. It can not only improve a person's quality of life, but also their life expectancy," Coleman said in a release.
"For example, for someone with end stage kidney disease they either need a transplant or hundreds of hours of dialysis each year," he said, adding that a record number of organ transplants were carried out in 2016, with 61 deceased donors providing 181 organs to be transplanted.
"We've been making great strides in the area, with the rate increasing by 57 percent in the past four years, but our rates are relatively low compared with other countries which highlights that there's room for improvement," Coleman said.
The strategy's priorities include: to further increase public awareness of organ donation, make it easier for people to register, update and share their wish to donate with family and clinicians and increase the hospital-based capacity for deceased organ donation to take place.
It also stresses to empower intensive care staff to discuss the organ donation process, establish a national agency to lead the implementation of the strategy, and have a clear mandate to increase the rates of deceased organ donation and transplantation.
"To support this, we're investing 500,000 NZ dollars (365,850 U.S. dollars) in 2017/2018 to increase specialist medical and nursing organ donation capability within some ICUs," said Coleman, adding that the strategy complements the government's recent initiative to increase transplants through increasing live organ donations.
Budget 2017 committed 700,000 NZ dollars (512,290 U.S. dollars) a year to help remove the financial deterrent to becoming a live organ donor. The Compensation for Live Organ Donors Act will come into force by December 5, 2017.
"It means people who donate a kidney or part of a liver will be eligible for 100 percent loss of earnings compensation for up to 12 weeks from surgery while they recover," Coleman said, adding that this will further help increase the donation rates and support the overall direction of the new strategy.