Battling the Big B: Hepatitis B in New Zealand
When Sandy Milne discovers hepatitis B is endemic in Eastern Bay of Plenty children in the mid-1970s, health officials refuse to acknowledge the problem. Undaunted, this laboratory technologist teams up with paediatrician Dr Chris Moyes to prove that New Zealand faces a serious hepatitis B crisis. They screen the entire town of Kawerau and fi nd that our Maori andEuropean children have among the highest rates of hepatitis B in the world. Milne faces scepticism from the medical fraternity and is accused of exaggerating the situation, and Health MinisterMichael Bassett appoints Professor Eru Pomare to investigate. In the fi ght for New Zealand's hepatitis B problem to be recognised and adequately resourced, Milne goes 'head to head with' politicians and health offi cials. He eventually sets up the Hepatitis Foundation to highlight the issue nationwide. This is a compelling story where the politics sometimes get 'dirty', where Milne is accused of being 'racist and culturally unsafe', and where the Hepatitis Foundation faces obstruction and near bankruptcy. Amid the battles, the Whakatane team continues its groundbreaking research to win the war against the virus.