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Government’s Claims Lack Evidence And Risk Overall Health Benefits – Report

Wellington (Tuesday, 30 August 2022) – Fiction over fact is the basis for the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) new policies, research by think tank The New Zealand Initiative reveals.

The fact that neither the Government nor the MOH could produce objective data to support their claims that systemic racism is significantly to blame for poor Māori health outcomes is the most alarming revelation in the Initiative’s new report, Every life is worth the same – The case for equal treatment.

The research, conducted by the Initiative’s senior fellow Dr Bryce Wilkinson, also analysed the Government’s prescription to remedy the situation by prioritising health spending for Māori, especially in Pharmac’s medicine procurement.

“The large differences in average health, educational and economic outcomes across racial groups in New Zealand are troubling,” says Dr Wilkinson. “The reasons for them should be rigorously identified. But raw differences do not justify discriminating against those in other racial groups who are doing as badly or worse. Nor do they justify better treatment for those doing better in a ‘priority’ group than those doing worse in other groups.”

“It is your circumstances that should count, not your group classification,” Dr Wilkinson said.

Writing in his foreword to the report Professor of Medicine Des Gorman (Ngāpuhi) says, “Data is needed to separate the relative impacts of genetics and epigenetics from the direct impacts of social factors such as housing, education and employment from any inherent and institutionalised racism within our health system.”

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“We can all agree that the time to address the underlying causes of this inequality is well overdue. However, what is needed are objective data about what leads to improved outcomes rather than political rhetoric,” says Professor Gorman, who supports the Initiative’s findings.

The report makes the point that correct medical treatment relies on evidence-based diagnosis. Government policies should require the same.

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