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18 September, 2018

Primary Health Care Federation must be radical if it is to achieve equity where others have failed

The National Hauora Coalition, Aotearoa’s largest Māori-led Primary Health Organisation (PHO) welcomes the establishment of the Federation of Primary Health Aotearoa New Zealand and the appointment of Steve Chadwick as the first chair of the group.

“The Federation is potentially a positive development for NZ primary healthcare”, says Simon Royal, Chief Executive of the National Hauora Coaltion. “However, what is important is whether the Federation becomes a game-changer — able to make significant inroads to address health inequities for Māori in Aotearoa. Only time will tell if this is the case”

“What I want to see, and what Māori look to with anticipation, is action and tangible improvements to the primary health care system. We need federation members to take a range of actions so that by 2040 we can celebrate equity in health outcomes and see a fair and equitable society in Aotearoa”.

“It is also important to remind the federation and other health sector decision makers that Māori were also optimistic when the Primary Health Care Strategy was released in 2001. But the implementation of that strategy hasn’t realised the promised level of benefit for Māori and significant structural discrimination remains. We, as primary health care leaders, are under obligation to look beyond narrow business interests and think about how we can really deliver equity.”

The long-standing persistent and pervasive health and social inequities for Māori, and other underserved groups, are a significant concern in the health sector. Publications like the Hauora series started by Dr Eru Pomare in the 1980s gave us evidence of inequity that we couldn’t ignore. Over the past 40 years a number positive statements have been made and groups established to address this very real problem, but progress has been too slow and often privileges those who are already doing well.

The National Hauora Coalition is amongst a number of Māori health groups that see the acceptance of inequity as unconscionable and are committed to changing the status quo.

Drawing on their lived experience in the primary health care sector, the National Hauora Coalition Chief Executive Simon Royal and Trustee Henare Mason have taken a claim (Wai 2687) to the Waitangi Tribunal. This Claim will be heard in the first stage of the Waitangi Tribunal’s inquiry into health services and outcomes (Wai 2575). Hearings for stage one begin at Turangawaewae Marae on 15 October 2018.

In addition to pushing for a health system that delivers equity, the National Hauora Coalition seeks a true partnership for Māori – so that the Crown and health agencies adhere to a more enlightened policy of empowering Māori to lead our own solutions instead of assuming that they know best.

In the meantime, National Hauora Coalition is continuing its focus on serving its en-rolled population of over 130,000 enrolled patients under its vision of Mana Whānau – Whānau Ora.

For media queries contact: Tammy Dehar, National Hauora Coalition, 021 412 203.

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