University course aims to improve Pacific health
A new Pacific-focused university health paper is aiming to address health inequalities and improve the health of the Pacific population in New Zealand.
A new university course is aiming to address health inequalities and improve the health of the Pacific population in New Zealand. 'Fonua Ola : Pasifika Health' is the first of its kind at the Auckland University of Technology, and has been introduced this semester for students studying health promotion.
Leilani Momoisea reports:
An AUT senior lecturer in Public Health, and co-convenor of the Pasifika Health paper, Sari Andajani, says different ethnic groups have different health outcomes, and the way health is delivered, shouldn't be a one size fits all approach. She says there needs to be a better understanding of the differences between ethnic groups, to achieve health equality.
SARI ANDAJANI: The industry needs people who are very aware of not just the needs, but the perspectives of the Pasifika communities for their health and their well-being, to help us to deliver more responsive, efficient, health services.
A second year bachelor of health science student, majoring in health promotion, Tessa Seu, says Pacific health is one of the bigggest challenges in the South Auckland region. She says the health sector and health educators need to realise that Pasifika people have a holistic view of health.
TESSA SEU: It's not just about the physical health, it's all about cultural, spiritual, mental, family is important. So recognising those perspectives, students may need to take that into consideration in future, so that when they come across, or when they work with Pasifika people, they have a better understanding.
Sari Andajani says Pacific students have been asking for a paper like this for years. She says cultural and health experts will be sharing their knowledge, but Pacific students will also be bringing a lot of their inherent knowledge on Pacific health to the table.
SARI ANDAJANI: It's empowering in a way this paper for them to see your knowledge is also important. You are the cultural experts, and you will be leaders in the future, now see what is so good about that value that you can bring to enhance the wellbeing of your community.
A Tongan community leader and dietician, Soana Muimuiheata, says it's important that Pacific people learn more about themselves, and for non-Pacific people to be aware of what Pacific people go through in managing their health. She says it's essential future health workers can relate to the Pacific community.
SOANA MUIMUIHEATA: Pacific health is a growing population, especially in Counties Manukau. One of the key aspects that we need to talk more about is the health literacy and also how the culture affect, or the roles of culture in the health outcomes for Pacific people.
Tessa Seu agrees.
TESSA SEU: To have that understanding, that empathy, the way that Pasifika people work, sorry not work, but their way of life, that cultural diversity, having that knowledge of it, will definitely benefit us in the future with our work.
The Fonua Ola : Pasifika Health paper forms part of the Bachelor of Health Sciences in Health Promotion, but all students interested and who meet eligibility criteria, can apply.
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