Health equity advocate Dr. Bryan Betty recognized in Queen’s Honors

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Dr Bryan Betty, Porirua General Practitioner and Medical Director of the College of General Practitioners, has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Ross Giblin / Stuff

Dr Bryan Betty, Porirua General Practitioner and Medical Director of the College of General Practitioners, has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

At the height of the pandemic, Dr. Bryan Betty’s workdays often started around 7 a.m. and ended around 10 p.m.

As well as being Medical Director of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, Betty has been the voice of GPs on the Government’s Covid-19 Advisory Group throughout the pandemic, while serving high needs patients at Cannons Creek.

The media would also call around the clock asking for Betty’s thoughts on the latest spread of cases, or the flu season, or the vaccination.

So to find out that he was made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his health services was “a bit mind-blowing”, he said.

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“I certainly didn’t expect it…but it’s been a very busy time with media and commitments, and it takes a lot of time, energy and focus.”

Last August, he managed to go on a skiing holiday – the first since the pandemic began – only to abandon the slopes of the South Island on the second day when the country entered the Delta lockdown.

“Such recognition is worth it, especially for the family who have to bear it.”

Betty owed a debt of gratitude to her family – three children Krishan, Arun and Imani, – but in particular to her “very forgiving” wife and fellow GP, Dr Susie Harichandran.

Dr. Bryan Betty, says it was

LISA BURD/Stuff

Dr Bryan Betty, says it was “spectacular” to hear about his Queen’s birthday honor.

Betty has held a long list of roles in the health sector, many of which are focused on improving equity.

His practice, Porirua Union in Cannons Creek, serves a community primarily made up of Maori, Pasifikas and refugees and “they’re doing it hard,” he said. One of the biggest issues in East Porirua was type 2 diabetes, which remains one of Betty’s main focus areas.

He has advocated nationally on issues surrounding type 2 diabetes and rheumatic fever, and in 2020 successfully lobbied drug-buying agency Pharmac to fund two diabetes drugs from type 2 – empagliflozin and dulaglutide.

“New Zealand had fallen behind on type 2 diabetes drugs, so getting them over the line was very important.”

Betty will be spending the Queen’s birthday with her family – a luxury in itself, he said.

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