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1000s of Pacific people visit GPs for $10 or less

Thousands of Pacific people visit GPs for $10 or less

One of New Zealand's first Primary Health Organisations (PHOs), TaPasefika, established only three months ago in South Auckland, is already looking after the health needs of more than 14,000 (mostly Pacific) people, Pacific Island Affairs Minister Mark Gosche said.

The Minister released these figures today, the day after Health Minister Annette King announced the establishment of four more PHOs across New Zealand.

TaPasefika was established on 1 July 2002 along with the Maori PHO, Te Kupenga O Hoturoa, also based in Counties Manukau, Auckland.

The new Primary Health Organisations announced today will give thousands more New Zealanders in high health need, low income parts of the country access to good, affordable primary health care.

Health Minister Annette King was in the Hutt Valley today to launch one of the four new PHOs. There are also two in Tairawhiti and one on the West Coast of the South Island.

The PHOs are being funded from $50 million allocated this financial year to begin implementing the Primary Health Care Strategy.

Affordable, quality primary health care is a priority for this government, which is why $400 million dollars has been allocated over a three-year period.

"It's too early to formally evaluate the success of TaPasefika. But we must be making progress on reducing the burden on hospitals, when 14,311 people are getting to visit a GP before they potentially get too sick and end up in hospital," said Mark Gosche.

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The TaPasefika PHO charges no fees for children aged 0-18, and only $10 for adults.

"Affordable access to a range of primary health care services is crucial to reaching Pacific people at the early stages of illness. In the past we know that many Pacific people on low incomes have found it too expensive to go the doctor. They wait until they are sick enough to go to hospital.

"But if they know it's affordable, they're more likely to get help when they need it."
It is predicted that by July next year up to two million New Zealanders would be enrolled in PHOs. Nearly all District Health Boards in the country have signalled they are likely to have at least one PHO established by early 2003.

"TaPasefika is already proving the success of early intervention at the primary care level. The PHO movement heralds a new era in more affordable and more accessible health care for those who most need it," Mark Gosche said.

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