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Maori Health Providers A Crucial Component In NZ

Monday, 23 February 2004

Press release

Maori health providers a crucial component in NZ healthcare

Maori health providers are a crucial and cost effective way of ensuring all New Zealanders get essential healthcare, according to the Public Health Association.

The Association says criticism of the existence of Maori health providers ignores the fact that one size does not fit all when it comes to healthcare. Director Dr Gay Keating says evidence shows Maori people are more likely to visit a Maori health service because they feel comfortable in that environment. One of the priorities of Maori health services is getting health care to people who do not normally see a GP, she says.

"Maori health providers are a cost effective option because early intervention saves on expensive hospital treatment, as well as personal suffering. For example the child who is not treated for a minor skin infection may end up in hospital having surgery. "

However Dr Keating says it is unrealistic to expect Maori providers to perform a miraculous cure when it comes to Maori health because many health problems are related to the much larger problem of poverty, as well as overcrowded and poorly heated housing.

Dr Keating says Maori health providers are just one example of successful targeting in health care. For example she says there are specialised men's health clinics run by GPs which target the needs of busy, middle-aged men. Many women prefer seeing a woman doctor for their cervical smear tests and there are a growing number of youth health services, Dr Keating says.

"Giving people a fair go means ensuring the people who need health care actually get it. That's not special treatment," she says.


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