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Mark Gosche Speech: South Auckland Influenza

Speech Notes for Mark Gosche
Minister of Pacific Island Affairs
At the launch of the South Auckland Influenza Campaign
Saturday 1 April 2000
Otara Recreation Centre

Kia orana, Ni sa Bula, Taloha ni, Malo e lelei, Faka’alofa lahi atu, Halo Olaketa, Ia orana, Kia ora, Greetings – Talofa Lava.

I would like to thank the tangata whenua. And acknowledge our ministers and spiritual leaders for their support, particularly Reverend Leamulu and longtime stalwart, Moira Walker and our mayor Sir Barry Curtis.
I also want to thank the staff of South Sea Kids for inviting me to share this day with you. Steve Miers Jones – who can't be here today - Tepora Peseta. And our team of Pacific doctors – Doctor Siro Fuatai, Doctor Debbie Ryan, Doctor Teuila Percival and Doctor Alec Ekeroma for making this day possible.

Just being able to thank so many Pacific health professionals is something to be thankful for today. You are role-models and you are the future and I am sure our community are very proud of you and what you are trying to do here.

The South Sea Vision is simple: health and wellbeing for our Pacific Peoples.

Influenza – or the flu – seems a pretty harmless seasonal illness to many Kiwis. But for our communities, influenza has hit our people very, very hard.

Medical evidence from South Auckland studies show that vaccinating Pacific elders against the flu prevents respiratory illness by a half, prevents hospitalisation by more than half and most importantly - reduces deaths in our elders by nearly seventy percent.

What better proof do we need than knowing that our elders have a 70% better chance of surviving the Winter if they have a flu shot?

The 1996-1997 national health survey reported that Pacific people were less likely to go to their local GP. Were less likely to have registered with a local GP but were more likely to end up at A and E without a referral from a general practitioner.

It's clear that there is a huge gap between healthcare and many Pacific communities.

The Health Funding Authority has recognised this and is working with South Seas. Today's initiative is the first part of a wider project to address the unique health needs of South Auckland families and communities.

At South Seas doctors and health professionals combine western based medicine with an indepth knowledge of their own Pacific cultures.

They have combined clinical and cultural competence in a service that recognises our community's unique socio-economic and cultural situations.

The South Auckland Influenza Campaign is a good example of this approach.

If our people are not going to the doctor – then the doctor can come to them. That is what is happening here. There are three mobile vaccination teams that visit churches throughout South Auckland on agreed dates. Team members are fluent in Pacific languages and there has been an overwhelming response from our churches. The vaccinations are free to elders aged 65 and over, and those with chronic illnesses such as asthma and diabetes.

And for the rest of the family the charge is $5 – the cheapest flu vaccination in the country as most others cost up to $25.

The teams began visiting churches a few weeks ago and I understand they have been an unmitigated success.

We have our doctors, our ministers and our congregations to thank for this achievement.


I would like to congratulate you all and thank you for your commitment to enhancing the lives of our families and communities.

Ia Manuia.

ENDS

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