One of the greatest achievements of successful advocacy is bringing everyone to the table to talk about how to solve problems and resolve issues. This is exactly what FEAST Board Member Nicki Wilson did in New Zealand recently through her work at EDANZ (Eating Disorders Association of New Zealand).
Parent advocates, district health boards, psychologists, counselors, and sector experts met to discuss the massive increase in the demand for eating disorders services, likely related to COVID-19, which has put a major strain on an already stretched health care system. This system has reached a breaking point, with record numbers of people seeking eating disorder treatment. As a result, people have to wait for extended periods of time before they can start treatment.
Parent advocates are calling for a sector-led specialist panel to look at what can be done to provide better support. Nicki stated, “Eating disorders, like anorexia and bulimia are treatable illnesses – people can get better quite quickly if they are treated early enough, but that’s just not happening. ”
Another area of concern in New Zealand is the shortage of clinicians with evidence-based eating disorder training and the lack of skilled primary physicians who can identify eating disorder cases early on and treat patients more proactively in the community while they wait for specialized care.
FEAST commends Nicki Wilson and EDANZ on their advocacy efforts and hopes that they bring about the necessary change in New Zealand to improve treatment and reduce suffering for people with eating disorders and their families.