I am very pleased to announce that Dr Don Matheson will be joining the Ministry of Health later this month in a fixed term role as Deputy Director-General Public Health and Primary Care Transformation. This role will focus on leading the creation of a strong national public health service, a key next step in strengthening our response to COVID-19 and wider public health issues, and supporting the further development of primary care so that it can play a stronger role in the system, as highlighted in the Health and Disability System Review.
Don will be based in the Ministry's Auckland office and will be the ELT leader there after a two week stint in managed isolation. So saying, he will start working while enjoying that experience on Monday 27 July and we will be zooming him into meetings. Don, Deborah Woodley and Clare Perry will work through the mechanics of how the public health and primary care teams will interface with Don once he is here.
Some of you will know Don from his former roles in New Zealand, including as Deputy Director-General Public Health here in the Ministry between 2000 and 2008 during which (among many other things) he managed the development of the New Zealand Health Strategy and co-led the health sector’s approach to addressing health inequalities.
Don is a specialist public health physician and has had a career-long focus on health systems. He has most recently been working with the health sector in North Brisbane and previously worked as an independent health systems consultant, and over a nine year period undertook evaluations of national and district health systems in the Asia Pacific region. He holds visiting professorships at Griffith University and Queensland University of Technology.
At the regional level, he served as WPRO’s regional adviser on non-communicable diseases. At the global level, he represented the NZ Minister of Health on the WHO Executive Board, and provided policy advice to inform World Health Reports on health care financing (2010), primary health care (2008), and to the Commission on the Social Determinants of Health (2008).
His early medical career was spent as a district medical officer on the Zimbabwe/Mozambique border. Returning to Aotearoa NZ in the mid 1980s, Don became a general practitioner, and worked firstly with unions and later alongside mana whenua to establish community and iwi controlled health services in Newtown, Wellington and in the East Coast’s Ngāti Porou rohe.
I am very much looking forward to Don rejoining the Ministry of Health whanau and leading these important areas of work.
Dr Ashley Bloomfield
Director-General of Health