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Maori are least likely to get professional post-natal suppor

Maori are least likely to get professional post-natal support

Maori are less likely to receive the post-natal support they are entitled to than other groups of New Zealanders, a seminar at Parliament hosted by Green MP Marama Davidson will be told today.

“During 2014 and 2015 nearly one third of the babies who received no post-natal contacts from professionals were Maori,” Whakawhetu’s National Manager Kathrine Clarke said. Whakawhetu National SUDI Prevention for Maori is a national kaupapa Maori programme dedicated to reducing the rate of SUDI (Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy) for Maori.

The WellChild-Tamariki Ora Programme (WCTO) is designed to protect and improve health outcomes for New Zealand children, from birth to five years, through a series of 13 core visits from a health professional. Services are free and are provided by a range of agencies.

Although Maori babies make up 22% of the populationduring 2014/15, 31.7% of the babies who received no WCTO contacts were Maori. Conversely Pasifika babies made up 10.9% of the population during 2014/2015, and 11% of babies who were not seen during the first 12 months were Pasifika.

Primary responsibility for delivering critical safe sleep information to whanau lies with WCTO health providers. Knowing how to position baby correctly when they sleep is one of the most important ways to prevent SUDI. Maori SUDI rates are almost five times higher than other groups.

“Less than one in two Maori babies (48%) had a caregiver provided with SUDI information at their Core 1 visit compared to 59.5% for all births,” Kathrine Clarke said.

Apart from the differential treatment Maori receive through the WCTO programme, the seminar will suggest ways for improving these outcomes.

“We have talked to eight Maori whanau facing hardship,” Kathrine Clarke said.

“The report Maori Narratives of Poverty and Resilience, which we will release at Parliament, tells us that while Maori struggle with poverty, Maori cultural values are very central to their sense of wellbeing. When relationships in the whanau are harmonious, when they focus on Maori culture and language, then they have a sense of wellbeing.

“Our hope is that heath services will take the findings of the report to help them shape their services, so that they are more responsive to Maori.”

Dr Carla Houkamau from the University of Auckland is one of the authors of the report. She says that unconsciously health services make assumptions about what is best for Maori.

“The concept of Unconscious Bias is starting to circulate in New Zealand following admissions by the New Zealand Police that they demonstrate an unconscious bias towards Maori,” Dr Houkamau said today.

“We need to expand discussions of Unconscious Bias into the health sector. Unconscious Bias occurs when a health care provider automatically or unconsciously classifies a patient as a member of a group, applies stereotypes to the patient based on their group membership, and makes decisions based on those biases.”

Dr Houkamau told the seminar that the government needs to invest in Unconscious Bias training for health providers so that health workers can develop new strategies to work with Maori and a range of other cultural groups.



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