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Waikato: Incentive programme for smokefree pregnancies


Waikato District Health Board is offering pregnant Maori mums gift vouchers to quit smoking.

If you are up to 28 weeks pregnant, smoke and are Maori or Pasifika, Waikato District Health Board (DHB) may have up to $250 worth of gift vouchers to give you.

The offer is part of the Hapu Mama incentive programme to encourage 30 pregnant mums in the Waikato to give up smoking.

Dr Nina Scott, a public health doctor at Waikato District Health Board, says incentives recognise that strong support is needed to help women quit smoking during a time when they have a lot going on in their lives.

New Zealand’s high rate of smoking during pregnancy for Maori women is a public health emergency, says Dr Scott

Dr Scott, who works with Waikato DHB’s Maori Health Service Te Puna Oranga, says the time has come to put in some serious effort to address maternal smoking.

“The impact of smoking on the mums and their unborn babies is very clear. However pregnancy can be a difficult time and it is easy to postpone quitting smoking until later. So rewards like recognition and a gift vouchers along the way really help keep the mums on track during those important months when the baby needs all the help it can get,” she says.

Te Puna Oranga general manager Ditre Tamatea says that his unit works with a wide range of services to support Maori to quit smoking. “The incentive programme is simply there to support women to give up smoking, and at the end of the day, rewards are nice to have but the greatest incentive will be to protect the health of the baby.”

The gift vouchers are for things like groceries, petrol and The Warehouse, but cannot be used for cash, cigarettes or alcohol. The vouchers will be given at one, four, eight and 12 weeks after women stop smoking, to a total value of about $250. Each woman will also receive a pair of earrings especially designed and made for the “Hapu Mama’ initiative by local Maori artist Nicola Te Kiri.

The women will also get face-to-face support from local smoking cessation services and free nicotine replacement therapy. Smokefree status will be validated by a simple test that measures their carbon monoxide levels.
Statistics show that if someone stays smokefree for 30 days they are five times more likely to stop for life.

The high rate of maternal smoking is an area of focus for Waikato DHB’s Maternity Quality and Safety Programme, as smoking during pregnancy contributes to higher rates of miscarriage, low-birth weight babies, problems during childbirth, sudden infant death syndrome, asthma and glue ear, as well as the health risks for the mother.

Similar programmes are run successfully overseas, and Counties Manukau DHB started an incentive programme late last year, which has been very successful.

The Waikato pilot programme is based on the Counties Manukau model and is focused on Maori and Pacific mothers because they have a much higher rate of maternal smoking than Pakeha women. “More than 50% of pregnant Maori women in the Waikato smoke compared to about 10% of pregnant Pakeha women,” Dr Scott says.

“A Smokefree pregnancy is one of the best ways to promote a healthy pregnancy and baby."

“We are putting out a call for pregnant Maori women (up to 28 weeks) across the Waikato to get in touch with us and discuss enrolling on the programme.”

That includes women living in Thames, Coromandel, Taumarunui, Te Kuiti, Kawhia, Raglan, Otorohanga, Tokoroa, Hamilton, Huntly, Ngaruawahia, and all the areas in between.

Women who are Maori and within 28 weeks of pregnancy can text 021 762 579 or call 07 838 2569 to find out more.


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