The appointment of Dr Prudence Stone as chief executive of the Public Health Association (PHA) heralds the beginning of a new era for public health in Aotearoa New Zealand.
President of the PHA, Lee Tuki, says Dr Stone has the passion, energy and mana to raise the profile and prominence of public health issues in New Zealand.
“If we want people in New Zealand to be healthy and well we need to put public health at the centre of all policy making. Dr Stone has the skills, knowledge and connections to get the public health voice clearly heard.”
Ms Tuki says the PHA are delighted to have someone of Dr Stone’s calibre in the chief executive role.
“Dr Stone is committed to making Aotearoa a better place to live for current and future generations of New Zealanders. She’s shown throughout her career that she is a great listener, is able to build consensus, and never gives up. She will be a relentless campaigner for public health in Aotearoa New Zealand.”
Dr Stone says public health is a key pillar of a functional, healthy society.
“There’s so much that can be achieved by taking a public health approach to issues. It is essential that the PHA is an effective watchdog and informant, so the right decisions get made.”
“A lot of the time public health can be up against huge multinationals working in industries such as tobacco, sugar and alcohol. It’s crucial the PHA works to combat the persuasive influence big industry can have by ensuring we promote evidence-based policies. We must be constantly vigilant.”
Dr Stone says one of her first priorities will be to get to know her membership and their priorities.
“While the PHA has a very small national office, we have passionate and active members all over the country who have so much to offer. I will be doing a lot of listening over the next few months in order to gain a really clear picture of where we want to go collectively as an organisation.”
Dr Stone has a Masters and PhD in sociology and was previously Executive Director of the Smokefree Coalition, where she oversaw the national public health movement that encouraged the government’s commitment to the goal of a Smokefree Aotearoa by 2025. She has been a member of the PHA since 2009, and became Co-Chair of the Wellington region PHA branch in 2018.