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Doctors Back A Fully Empowered Māori Health Authority

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists and the New Zealand Medical Association are making clear their support for the establishment of a Māori Health Authority with full commissioning rights, as a new pathway to deliver health equity for Māori.

The Final Report of the Health and Disability System Review included a recommendation for a Māori Health Authority. However, Review members were split on whether it should have the power to commission and fund services. An “alternative view” in the report called for these greater powers.

A Māori Health Authority was also part of Labour’s 2020 election promise in its Next Steps to Rebuilding Our Health System. The Minister of Health Andrew Little said late last year, “Māori are suffering in a health system that is not treating them equally. If we're going to have a Māori Health Authority, I'm determined that it genuinely has the authority to really make a difference for Māori. I want to be sure that we're doing everything we can, that it's a game-changer for Māori.”

The NZMA and ASMS believe health must no longer remain a one-size-fits-all model, and now is the time to have a ‘for Māori-by-Māori’ holistic approach encompassing mātauranga Māori and rongoā (healing and medicines).

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“Māori making decisions for Māori embodies the Treaty imperative of tino rangatiratanga, and we know that the current health system is not treating Māori equally. The Government has shown us it can take decisive action as it did with Covid 19. Now we need courageous decision-making for Māori wellbeing as the current model does not work,” says NZMA Chair Dr Kate Baddock.

ASMS Executive Director Sarah Dalton says, “all the data tells us that the current system discriminates against Māori so it stands to reason that a new system must be designed by Māori for Māori if we’re serious about making a positive difference in health outcomes for all New Zealanders”.

It is also critical that a Māori lens is firmly applied to all areas of the health system to promote and create more equitable access in mainstream services.

Both organisations strongly favour a Māori Health Authority that is empowered to create, commission and fund structures and services for Māori, and encourage other health organisations and professional bodies to add their voices in support.

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