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Achieving health equity needs actions, not just rhetoric

5 August 2019


A newly-released Ministry of Health publication is making sure equity is at the front and centre of all newly-commissioned work in the health sector.

To coincide with the publication, Achieving Equity in Health Outcomes: Summary of a Discovery Phase, the Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has released a video highlighting the importance of not simply talking about equity but ensuring equity is at the forefront of everything the health sector does.

“‘Equity’ is quite a refined term. We might know what it means, we might have a definition. However, what we should do is think about what it means for citizens, for New Zealanders, because everybody has the right to good health," says Dr Bloomfield.

"We all benefit from having a healthier population."

The publication process involved speaking to many health sector representatives, including Māori and Pacific leaders, community providers, those in the disability sector, advocacy groups and clinical groups.

"Our new report analyses and presents those thoughts, ideas, and aspirations people in our health sector have when it comes to achieving equity.

“In particular, our starting point should look at what it means for access to, for experience of, and for outcomes from care for the groups that are the most disadvantaged."

“We need to keep thinking more broadly about health as not just an outcome but an enabler of wellbeing, an enabler of people being able to pursue their aspirations,” Dr Bloomfield says.

"In Aotearoa New Zealand, people have differences in health that are not only avoidable but unfair and unjust. Equity recognises different people with different levels of advantage require different approaches and resources to get equitable health outcomes.

"That definition of equity has generated a lot of comment from people during the conversations we've had. They're happy with its focus on health outcomes."

“Everyone benefits from us improving health service access and experience for disadvantaged New Zealanders, not just because it means services are high quality and accessible, but actually because we all benefit from having a healthier population,” says Dr Bloomfield.

"We must move beyond talking about equity and actively apply the ‘equity lens’ when health services are commissioned."

Read more about the Ministry’s work achieving equity in health care.

BACKGROUND

Dr Bloomfield signed-off the Ministry’s formal definition of equity in February 2019:
In Aotearoa New Zealand, people have differences in health that are not only avoidable but unfair and unjust. Equity recognises different people with different levels of advantage require different approaches and resources to get equitable health outcomes.

The definition is designed so it can be readily applied to work across the health and disability system, guiding what we to do make health care more equitable for all New Zealanders.

ENDS

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