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Govt Not Interested In Closing Asian Health 'Gap'

9 March 2001

Government Not Interested In Closing Asian Health 'Gap'

National's Ethnic Affairs spokesperson Pansy Wong today congratulated Waitemata District Health Board for launching another Asian health survey. The survey supports the 1998 HFA findings on Asian views on health and health services in New Zealand.

"Unfortunately such a progressive and Asian-friendly approach adopted by Waitemata and spurred along by its Asian health support group is not reflected in the Government's health policies. In fact a question I put to Health Minister Annette King in the House revealed that she was not even aware of the existence of the 1998 findings! "In last year's Health Funding Authority 'Striking a Better Balance' report, Asian people are not specifically identified. According to the Minister, the HFA is only required to respond to the needs of Maori and Pacific Island people under the Government's thwarted Closing the Gaps policy.

"As for the Ethnic Affairs Minister George Hawkins, his answer to this glaring inconsistency is to keep 'talking' with his Government colleagues. Not good enough George!

"Language and cultural differences, inadequate information, a lack of ethnic-based educational materials, and a lack of paid Asian health workers and professionals are all barriers to Asian communities' health and well-being.

"Astoundingly one out of 10 Aucklanders are Asian, yet there is no national strategy or national funding to close any specific Asian health gaps. How many more surveys will need to be carried out before this Government takes any action?" Pansy Wong said.


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