22 Sep 2021

Further $38 million funding for Māori health providers' Covid-19 response announced

8:20 am on 22 September 2021

The government has announced an extra $38 million to help Māori health providers give ongoing support to their communities during the Covid-19 response.

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Associate Minister of Health Peeni Henare. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Associate Minister of Health Peeni Henare says the money is on top of $23m in funding for Whānau Ora in relation to the coronavirus, announced earlier this month.

How it will be spent

  • $17m for providers to adapt their services to support the Covid-19 response, while maintaining their other essential health services
  • $14m to help whānau access health services, medications, and hygiene products and provide greater reach of vaccination, testing, and other health services to hard-to-reach areas
  • $3m to ensure whānau have access to mental health and wellbeing services
  • $2m to ensure providers have sufficient funding to manage the long tail of the response

Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson said another $2m from the earlier Covid-19 2021 Whānau Recovery Fund would be reprioritised for Māori health providers working directly with Te Puni Kōkiri.

Henare said with Māori being one of the communities most at-risk from Covid-19, it was "critical we put further resource into our Māori health providers at this time, especially with the increased risk posed by Delta and the current push to increase Māori vaccination rates".

He told Checkpoint the Māori vaccination rate for eligible Māori 12 years and older who had both doses was 25.4 percent as of Tuesday evening.

It did not compare well with non-Māori, he said.

"We know the rates are lagging behind ... but we are encouraged that the numbers are starting to pick up and we are going to do everything we can to make sure they continue to rise."

Māori health providers were working hard on the vaccine rollout and the government was there to support them, he said.

"There is clear evidence that Māori health providers are making inroads into our hard to reach communities and those who may be vaccine hesitant. It's important they can continue this work with the funding and resources they need," he said.

"Our Māori health providers have told us they're under immense pressure with increased demand to support testing, contact tracing, case management, and vaccinations, while also trying to keep up with their other work.

"This funding ensures our providers can continue to support their communities without burning out or losing capacity ... As well as taking care of their physical needs, it's also important whānau are able to access mental health and wellbeing support."

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