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National Hauora Coalition Calls For Pharmac’s Commitment To Equity

The National Hauora Coalition (NHC) is calling for Pharmac to deliver on its pledge for equity and fund new diabetes medicines for Māori and Pasifika patients.

Professor David Simmons study on Māori diabetes inequality, published today in Lancet Global Health, confirms that there is an engrained ethnic disparity in Type 2 diabetes outcomes in New Zealand. “Despite the advancements in treatment for Type 2 diabetes, the poor health outcomes for Māori and Pasifika have endured for over a quarter of a century.”

This study is a continued reminder of the inequities visited upon Māori and Pacific communities from social and historical factors (e.g. unequal distribution and access to determinants of health). It correctly highlights that rates of hospitalisation for cardiovascular disease and end-stage renal disease are highest amongst Māori and Pasifika patients.

This study is published at a time when Pharmac is currently proposing to impose strict special authority criteria that will limit access for Māori and Pacific patients despite their commitment to eliminate inequities in access to medicines by 2025 (as stated in Pharmac’s “Achieving medicine access equity in Aotearoa New Zealand: towards a theory of change”, 2019).

As Dr Ashley Bloomfield testified in the Waitangi Tribunal in 2018 these inequities have been persistent and are unacceptable.

Simon Royal, NHC CEO, highlights the need to draw attention to the poorly understood social and economic factors that lie behind obesity amongst Māori and Pacific whānau that leads to the onset of diabetes.

He says “this ignorance goes to the very top levels of our policy makers as evidenced by recent statements made by leaders of a major NZ political party. Two significant contributing factors being poverty, and second, having a health system that fails to act or acts inappropriately in the face of well-established need as the Simmons study points out. This example of institutional racism is even more staggering in light of the Government’s and Pharmac’s own stated policies related to health equity.”

“On behalf of whānau whose lives are being impacted, NHC is calling for Pharmac to withdraw the current consultation on special authority criteria and honour its commitment to equity by providing funded access to Māori and Pacific diabetic patients to medicines that can contribute to better outcomes”.

About National Hauora Coalition

The NHC kaupapa is mana whānau, whānau ora and is a lead advocate for hauora Māori (Wai 2687) through the Waitangi Tribunal Health Services Kaupapa Inquiry (Wai 2575). In its day to day activities NHC partners with a wide range of agencies, Iwi and industry groups to commission and deliver a broad range of indigenously designed health and social services to improve health outcomes for Māori, achieve health equity and greater social cohesion for the benefit of Aotearoa.

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