The Waikato District Health Board says it needs to do things differently and accelerate efforts to improve health equity.
This follows the Rapua Te Ara Matua Equity Report, written by the DHB, which said it was “integrated into a health system that prioritized the needs of the majority while not meeting the needs of all”.
The report paints a grim picture of the inequalities experienced by Maori and Pasifika in its region.
“Waikato DHB is party to the systematic failure to adequately bridge and eliminate equity gaps and provide culturally competent and holistic services for Tangata Whenua,” the report said.
The DHB said 60% of kidney dialysis patients are Maori and most of them also have diabetes.
This is one of the many health inequities that the council urgently wants to improve.
Waikato DHB, director of Maori equity research and strategy Dr Nina Scott, said there was a sense of urgency around the issue and the system needed a major overhaul. in terms of health equity.
She said the DHB can develop services to meet the needs of all people, including those living in poverty.
Scott said this could include making sure they have transportation to allow them to access health services.
“There are a lot of changes that can be made in the short term to improve outcomes, for example one of our departments doubled their referrals for Maori in their service simply by alerting GPs and other providers that they were not recommending any Maori – almost overnight they massively increased their Maori referral rate. “
But Scott said there was a lot to be done and that one definition of institutional racism is “inaction in the face of need”.
More targeted measures are needed to prevent people from smoking, she said.
“We have had some success with quitting prenatal smoking, helping pregnant women who smoke not to smoke.”
Scott said the Waikato region has the largest Maori population in the country and that the DHB recognizes that it needs to do things differently and accelerate its efforts to achieve equity.