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Maori die as healthcare denied

10 July, 2003
Maori die as healthcare denied

Green MP Metiria Turei said today that Maori would continue to suffer a higher mortality rate than non-Maori New Zealanders unless the Government urgently addressed systemic failures in the health and welfare sectors.

"The findings of this report are a serious indictment on the user-pays mentality that has effectively reduced many of New Zealanders on low incomes to second-class citizens," said Metiria, the Green spokesperson for Maori Affairs.

"The reality has not changed for Maori since the Labour Government came to power in 1999. They are still dying far too early in comparison with other New Zealanders.

"Despite a public health system available for all New Zealanders, Maori diagnosed with cancer die double the rate of non-Maori.

"We have also had serious problems with meningococcal disease running rampant through state housing areas with higher concentrations of Maori and Pacific Island residents," said Metiria.

"By raising housing standards and making health services available for all, regardless of their ability to pay, New Zealand can raise the hopes for longer lives across all sectors.

"The Government has not arrested the user-pays mentality that has lead to such a disgraceful disparity between the longevity of Maori and Pacific Island people and other New Zealanders.

"For example, the Plunket Society's recent moves to consider charging for some services could effectively deny more services to low income families."

Metiria said the Government must address the issues of sub-standard housing, early childhood health care and communicable diseases in lower-income communities.

"The Government is taking a very narrow approach to dealing with the health of Maori and Pacific Islanders. If they are serious about 'closing the gaps' they must improve the living conditions of the groups that need it most."

ENDS


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