1 Apr 2021

Waikato DHB says it needs to accelerate its efforts to achieve health equity

2:28 pm on 1 April 2021

Waikato District Health Board says it needs to do things differently and accelerate its efforts to improve health equity.

Waikato Hospital

Photo: Supplied / Waikato DHB / Facebook

That comes after the Rapua Te Ara Matua Equity Report, written by the DHB, which said it was "embedded in a healthcare system which has privileged the needs of the majority while failing to meet the needs of all".

The report painted a bleak picture of the inequities experienced by Māori and Pasifika in its area.

"Waikato DHB is party to the systematic failure to adequately address and eliminate equity gaps and provide services that are culturally competent and holistic for Tangata Whenua," the report said.

The DHB said that 60 percent of patients receiving kidney dialysis are Māori, and most of them also have diabetes.

It is one of a range of health-related inequities that the board wants to improve urgently.

Waikato DHB director of Māori equity strategy and research Dr Nina Scott said there is a sense of urgency around the issue and the system needs a major shake-up in terms of health equity.

She said the DHB can develop services to meet the needs of all people including those who are living in poverty.

Scott said this could include ensuring they have transport available to enable them to access health services.

"There are a lot of changes that can be done over the short term to improve the results, for example one of our services has doubled its referrals for Māori into its service just by reporting back to GPs and other providers that they were not referring any Māori - almost overnight they massively increased their referral rate for Māori."

But Scott said a lot needed to be done and one of the definitions of institutional racism is "inaction in the face of need".

More targetted measures are needed to stop people from smoking, she said.

"We have had some success with ante natal smoking cessation, with supporting pregnant women who smoke to be smokefree."

Scott said the Waikato region had the highest population of Māori in the country and the DHB recognises that it needed to do things differently and accelerate its efforts to achieve equity.

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