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Strategy to improve Maori use of pharmaceuticals

Media release

Strategy aims to improve Maori use of pharmaceuticals

Improving Maori health through the use of pharmaceuticals and increasing PHARMAC’s responsiveness to Maori health needs are two of the key areas addressed in PHARMAC’s Maori Responsiveness Strategy.

The Strategy, launched at Parliament today, identifies six major ways in which PHARMAC can improve its responsiveness to Maori.

These include PHARMAC involving and engaging more with Maori in its decision-making processes, improving the flow of data to show if and where Maori have less access to pharmaceuticals than other New Zealanders, and improving PHARMAC’s understanding of Maori issues.

The primary aims of the strategy are to identify ways in which PHARMAC can improve health outcomes for Maori, and to align its approach with other Government health strategies.

“We know that Maori have higher rates of illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and respiratory disease than other New Zealanders, and that their access to pharmaceuticals could be improved,” says PHARMAC Chief Executive Wayne McNee.

“However, we don’t know the exact comparisons or all the reasons why there are differences. One area where the strategy identifies a need for improvement is in data collection so we can understand why there are lower uptake rates for drugs like statins, for example, among Maori than for other New Zealanders.”

The Strategy has been developed through a series of hui in late 2001 at which PHARMAC heard the concerns of Maori face-to-face during consultation on a draft strategy. The feedback from these nine hui, held all around New Zealand, was then considered and incorporated into the final strategy.



Issues raised included barriers to accessing pharmaceuticals such as cost, lack of adequate information or the attitude of doctors or pharmacists; the need to engage with Maori in a partnership relationship; and the role of Maori traditional healing (Rongoa Maori).

“We found the hui to be an extremely valuable experience,” Wayne McNee adds.

“Many of the issues raised we were able to incorporate into our strategy. However some, such as the role of Rongoa Maori and the level of patient co-payments, were outside PHARMAC’s control and we have reported these back to the Ministry of Health.”

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2/Maori strategy release

Parts of the strategy have already been implemented, others will take place over time.

PHARMAC has appointed three Maori members to its new Consumer Advisory Committee, and the Minister of Health has appointed a Maori member, Helmut Modlik, to PHARMAC’s Board. PHARMAC will also be seeking to appoint Maori members to its advisory committee on clinical issues, the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee (PTAC).

PHARMAC staff are improving their knowledge and understanding of Maori issues, and information campaigns are being developed that address specific health needs of Maori.

These include the Take Control of Your Cholesterol campaign, which encourages people to make lifestyle changes to lower their overall risk of suffering heart disease, and the publication of a brochure on gout, which was jointly developed with Auckland rheumatologist Prof Peter Gow.

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For more information: 021 863 342

Main points from the PHARMAC Maori Responsiveness Strategy

The overall strategy incorporates six strategies, all of which conform to the Treaty of Waitangi framework adopted by the Ministry of Health.

The six strategies are as follows:

- Strategy one involves improving strategic planning processes, such that Maori health priorities are identified, and the contributions of PHARMAC activities to Maori health are clearly specified.

- Strategy two is to improve human resource development by nurturing a culture within PHARMAC that is responsive to Maori requirements, and to develop and implement a training and development programme.

- Strategy three involves improving the processes and procedures that PHARMAC will use to collect and analyse ethnicity data, such that Maori issues are explicitly addressed, and Maori priorities specifically considered.

- Strategy four is to improve activities involving the supply of pharmaceuticals by improving analysis of the benefits of drugs for Maori, providing training to staff and improving and expanding the consultation processes so that more Maori providers, health professionals and representatives are included.

- Strategy five is to improve activities related to public access and use of pharmaceuticals, including the use of targeted promotional materials, Maori media channels and the use of Maori translations to get information out to Maori about what is available and how best to use it.

- Strategy six involves improving Maori representation and participation in key decision areas.

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Background Information -- Maori Responsiveness Strategy

„« PHARMAC had been concerned that the benefits of subsidised pharmaceuticals may not be reaching Maori at the same rates as other New Zealanders.

„« PHARMAC’s Maori Responsiveness Strategy was developed to align PHARMAC operations with key Government health strategies, including

- New Zealand Health Strategy

- New Zealand Disability Strategy

- New Zealand Primary Care Strategy.

„« Nine hui were held across New Zealand from September to October 2001 to consult on the draft Strategy.

„« Hui were attended by more than 200 people.

„« Hui were held at:

- Taitokerau - at Waitangi Marae, Bay of Islands

- Auckland - at Awataha Marae, North Shore, Auckland

- Waikato - at Kirikiriroa Marae, Hamilton

- Waiaraiki / Bay of Plenty - at Wairaka Marae, Whakatane

- Taranaki - at Parihaka Marae, Taranaki

- Tairawhiti / Takitimu - at Tangoio Marae, Napier

- Manawatu / Whanganui a Tara - at Takapuwahia Marae, Porirua

- Ngai Tahu - at Rehua Marae, Christchurch

- Te Tau Ihu - at Whakatu Marae, Nelson.

„« Common themes to emerge from these hui included:

- The identification of barriers to access and use of medicines, including health professional attitudes, cost and lack of adequate information

- The need to identify Maori health priorities

- The role of Rongoa Maori (traditional Maori healing)

- The importance for PHARMAC to have partnership and participation with Maori

- Role of Maori health providers as educators

- The importance of research and accurate ethnicity data.

- Feedback incorporated into final Strategy, approved by PHARMAC Board July 2002.


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