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Pacific health research receives funding boost

5 June 2008

THURSDAY JUNE 5 2008 ****

Pacific health research receives funding boost from HRC

A groundbreaking project that looks at how frequent travel between New Zealand and the Pacific can lead to the spread of disease will be launched in August.

The study is one of eight projects focusing on Pacific health that have received funding from the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC).

It will be carried out by Dr Judith Littleton, of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Auckland.

In her proposal, Dr Littleton outlines how the “truly transnational” nature of Pacific people in New Zealand means there is often movement between two homes.

She will consider the issues this can raise, by using TB (tuberculosis) as a lens to look at the effects on health and health services and how this can be tackled.

Dr Littleton said: “It (the study) asks how and how well do New Zealand and island nations’ health services cope with this mobility? What helps to produce effective TB control and treatment? How can stigma be overcome?”

A further research project, included in the HRC’s $63M funding round, will investigate issues affecting access to maternity services for Pacific mothers-to-be.

The study aims to tackle “higher than desirable” levels of infant morbidity and death during childbirth, and will be launched next month.

The research will be carried out by Dr Ausaga Faasalele Tanuvasa, of the Health Services Research Centre at the Victoria University of Wellington, and aims to identify attitudes and barriers towards antenatal and midwifery care.

Dr Faasalele Tanuvasa said that, despite the availability of midwifery services, Pacific women attend antenatal care only late in pregnancy, which can result in complications during birth.

The findings will help inform midwifery service strategies to improve the health of Pacific women and children.

Dr Robin Olds, HRC Chief Executive, said: “Pacific Health is an area where the HRC does not generally receive as many applications. However, this year there has been an increase in research proposals that we have been delighted to support.

“I am sure the research that is carried out will come up with innovative solutions to benefit the health of Pacific Islanders both in New Zealand and in the Pacific for generations to come.”


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