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Minister attends Pacific Health Provider Fono

23 February 2006

Health Minister attends Pacific Health Provider Development Fono

The Minister of Health Pete Hodgson addressed the Pacific health provider development fono in Auckland today.

"I am pleased to have this opportunity to acknowledge the contribution that Pacific health providers are making to the New Zealand health sector. Pacific health providers are still very much part of the Pacific communities they serve. The support of the community was important in establishing the first community-based practices and in shaping the diverse and responsive Pacific provider sector that exists today," Pete Hodgson said.

"Pacific health providers are making an important contribution to improving Pacific peoples' health status and were a vital link in the Meningococcal B immunisation programme which led to Pacific children achieving the highest rate of vaccination. This is particularly significant as Pacific children were the group most affected by meningococcal meningitis".

An important challenge for Pacific health providers and the health sector is to increase the number of Pacific people in the health and disability workforce. At present there are too few Pacific health and disability professionals. For instance, one of the largest Pacific health workforce groups, nurses, comprises only three percent of the total nursing workforce. The number of Pacific nurses should be more representative of the Pacific population in New Zealand, which was 6.5 per cent at the last census.

"I want the number of Pacific peoples choosing careers in the health sector to grow. The government has in place a range of strategies and plans that will assist this to happen, but the support of Pacific communities and Pacific people working in the health sector is equally important to achieving this growth," said Pete Hodgson.

The Minister also launched the Health Research Council's strategic plan for Pacific Health Research at the fono. The plan has potential to contribute to better health outcomes for Pacific peoples.

ENDS

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