Maori, News, Policy

Healthcare system reforms welcomed

HPF has welcomed Government’s plans to revamp and strengthen the healthcare system to provide more equitable and better health care for all New Zealanders.

Andrew Little

NZ’s Health Minister Andrew Little who unveiled the major changes yesterday (May 21) said ensuring fairer access for all New Zealanders and putting a greater emphasis on primary healthcare were two of the main drivers of the reforms.

“The reforms will mean that for the first time, we will have a truly national health system, and the kind of treatment people get will no longer be determined by where they live.

“By making these changes we can start giving true effect to Tiro Rangatiranga and our obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi,” said Mr Little.

The main changes include the setting up of a new and truly independent Māori Health Authority, aimed at overcoming the huge health disparities for Māori as a whole, and the replacement of the 20 DHBs by one new body Health NZ.  A new Public Health agency will also be created within the Ministry of Health.

Sione Tu’itahi

HPF’s Executive Director Sione Tu’itahi said HPF was pleased to see the creation of a Māori Health Authority (MHA) which would help not only to address the inequities, but also to acknowledging the rights of Tangata Whenua as the other partner in Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the founding document of our nation, and one of the two founding documents of health promotion in our country.

Mr Tu’itahi said however that by not including environmental determinants in the reframing was a missed opportunity.

“Let’s hope that the new Public Health Agency, and the MHA will pick this up. The health sector and all other sectors should seriously note that the planet is broken, as mentioned by the UN Secretary-General recently. We cannot achieve human health without a healthy planet.

“Overall, the reform is a move in the right direction, but let’s wait for the details, especially the distribution of power and the allocation of resources.”

Peeni Henare

Associate Health Minister (Māori Health) Peeni Henare said while New Zealand’s health system performs well overall against most international comparisons, it has significant issues delivering for Māori who continue to lag behind in key health status indicators.

“Māori health has suffered under the current system for too long,” Mr Henare said.

“We will legislate for a new independent voice – the Māori Health Authority – to drive hauora Māori and lead the system to make real change.

“It will have joint decision-making rights to agree national strategies, policies and plans that affect Māori at all levels of the system and it will work in partnership with Health New Zealand to ensure that service plans and the commissioning of health services drives improvement,” Mr Henare added.

Click HERE for full documents about the reforms.

BANNER PHOTO by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash