11 Nov 2011

National acknowledges medical conditions among Maori

6:31 am on 11 November 2011

The National Party says it recognises that certain medical conditions are a bigger issue among Maori and Pacific than Pakeha people and is pledging to cut waiting times for elective surgery - if it returns to power.

At the moment, health boards do more than 90% of operations within six months, but National Party leader John Key says he wants that reduced over the next three years.

The party's health spokesperson, Tony Ryall, also says National has a proven track record of tackling pressing medical matters among Maori.

He says because of the disproportionately high rate of rheumatic fever among Maori and Pacific Islanders, some of the highest rates in developed countries, National would put $12 million in a programme designed to stamp out the disease.

Mr Ryall says the initiative has been talked about for 19 years and nothing has been done, and he says National is putting its money where its mouth is to fix the problem.