Government’s Maori Covid-19 response all words, no action – response group
The Ministry of Health’s Maori Covid-19 response plan, which has taken almost four weeks to be released, has been criticised for its lack of detail.
The action plan outlines the Ministry of Health’s objectives, the first of which is to achieve mana motuhake through supporting iwi and hapū to respond to the health needs of their community.
It would do this through financial assistance for Maori health providers and providing additional health workers to them.
It also aims to achieve mana tangata, through targeted information for Maori communities, hygiene and sanitation packs, and eliminating barriers to healthcare by providing payment for prescriptions and health services if needed.
A Maori Touchstone Group would be formed to advise the government on its Covid-19 Maori response, and the ministry would partner with iwi to develop Covid-19 response strategies, and conduct surveillance and monitoring of Maori across district health boards (DHB).
However, Maori National Pandemic response group Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā said there was no detail on how an equitable health system would be delivered.
“It provides high-level and aspirational statements and uses language and words that will resonate with Maori but offers no clear and tangible actions to bring to life the aspirations of the plan,” Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā member Dr Rhys Jones said.
“Instead, it devolves almost all responsibility for the provision of Maori healthcare to whānau, hapū and iwi Maori – something that has been taking place already – while not expressing any expectation for mainstream healthcare to do their job in ensuring equitable healthcare for Maori.”
Jones said the plan was very disappointing considering it had been released almost four weeks into the level 4 lockdown.
Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā has set out a number of recommendations to “breathe life” into the ministry’s response plan.
- Transparency in the distribution of funding and resources such as PPE, flu vaccines and Covid-19 tests
- The development of appropriate guidance for post-care treatment of Maori individuals with Covid-19 and their whānau
- A commitment to further resourcing for Maori health providers and iwi to continue to operate throughout the entire pandemic
The ministry’s Maori Health deputy director-general John Whaanga said it was only an “initial plan” and the ministry would build on it after further consultation.
He was awaiting feedback from Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā, iwi and the iwi chairs forum on how to strengthen engagement with them.
“I am expecting they will come back to us with areas we need to improve and build on, but I think the most important thing was sending a very clear signal that our responsibilities under Te Tiriti and our responsibilities for Maori health equity are front and centre in our considerations.”