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Improved Maori life expectancy

Tuesday, March 30 2004

Improved Maori life expectancy vindicates targeted Maori health services

New figures reporting improved Maori life expectancy vindicate targeted Maori health services, according to the Public Health Association.

Statistics New Zealand has just released data showing non-Maori now live about 8.5 years longer than Maori which is a major improvement compared to the 9.1 year difference recorded in 1995-1997.

PHA Director Dr Gay Keating says the new data is important because it shows the first significant improvement in Maori life expectancy over the last two decades.

Dr Keating says recent debate about race issues has seen calls to scrap Maori health providers on the basis that there aren't any proven health benefits. Dr Keating says the latest figures suggest that targeted health services are beginning to turn the tide.

"The data shows you do get results by putting the right policies and targeted services in place."

Dr Keating says these results are especially encouraging because Maori providers are a relatively recent innovation and major improvements in life expectancy weren't expected in such a short time frame. However she says many Maori health providers are seriously under-funded and a significant number of Maori continue to miss out on essential health care.

The improved life expectancy may also be linked to recently improved educational achievements, employment statistics and an upturn in the economy; Dr Keating says.


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