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Targeted funding & education reduces mortality gap

Targeted funding and education will reduce mortality gap

Today's report into ethnic mortality trends in New Zealand shows that more needs to be done to address a disparity in rates, says National Health Spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott.

"New Zealand needs a primary health care system which targets funding at those in need. The new system of Primary Health Organisations (PHOs) funds people by location rather than by need.

"The Government says its funding of PHOs will address this disparity, but it won't.

"Under PHOs, a wealthy patient can sign up to a doctor's practice which is subsidised by the Government, in the place of a poor person who will have to go elsewhere and pay full fees.

"This is because PHOs are funded on numbers of patients, not the need of those patients, and this is not fair. Everyone agrees with putting more money into primary care, but it needs to be targeted to need.

"Today's report is disappointing in that I am sure everyone would expect that the gap would be closing rather than staying the same.

"In targeting those in need, we must increase resources on educating the Maori and Pacific Island communities about the diseases that particularly affect them, and ways to prevent them through healthy lifestyle. That lifestyle includes exercising, not smoking and avoiding obesity.

"This report traverses two decades, but the long-term challenge now is to narrow the mortality rate gap," says Dr Scott.

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