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NZ Public Health And Disability Bill Reported Back

Health Minister Annette King and Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia say amendments to the Bill have helped clarify the Treaty of Waitangi provisions.

The Ministers say the Bill, referred back to Parliament today, will ensure health services meet the needs of all New Zealanders, while also recognising the need for specific health programmes to target particular health needs faced by whanau, hapu, iwi, Maori and other groups.

"This Government has removed any potential confusion posed by the inclusion of the original Treaty of Waitangi clause," Mrs King and Mrs Turia said. "The Bill now clearly distinguishes between health programmes and health treatment services delivered to people to meet their individual health needs.

"The Bill states that no one will receive preferential access to health services solely on the basis of race. Health programmes, however, such as immunisation campaigns to reach people whose needs have not been met, must continue to be targeted to particular ethnic groups to reduce health inequalities.

"The Treaty is an integral part of the Bill. In the health sector, key Treaty principles for involving Maori include partnership, participation and protection. This Government is committed to ensuring these principles are acknowledged and actioned. The Bill defines the important role of district health boards in this process, and clearly states DHBs should involve Maori in decision-making."

The Ministers said they were aware of work done to establish effective health relationships with Maori in recent years and in the new health environment.

"We want to see these maintained and strengthened. We are committed to building the capacity of Maori and helping them achieve their own health aspirations. These changes will ensure we can work together, with hapu, iwi, Maori communities and other organisations to improve Maori health.

"The New Zealand Health Strategy, New Zealand Disability Strategy and other specific strategies will provide guidance for DHBs and other health organisations on the achievement of health objectives and priorities."

The Ministers said other changes to the Bill included another option for Ministers when calling for inquiries, and a change to the provisions regarding Reserves Act land, reclassifying hospital reserves as Government reserves and giving DHBs the option of transferring landholding to the Residual Health Management Unit.

Ends

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