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Anti-equity health policy needs to be urgently fixed

Monday 4 November 2019

Anti-equity health policy needs to be urgently fixed – starting with changes to bowel cancer screening

The National Hauora Coalition (NHC) presents its oral submission to the Māori Affairs Committee in Auckland this morning.

“Despite rhetoric about reducing inequities, the New Zealand health system has failed to create an environment where equity is the norm” says Dr Rawiri McKree Jansen, Clinical Director at the National Hauora Coalition.

“There are inequities almost all health indicators, and in particular for cancer. These show that we need significant, Māori-led, changes”

“Too often, government policies and programmes turn out to be anti-equity. And we as health professionals and whānau have to work hard to even get to an equity-neutral position. Basically, we are handed a bag of lemons and left to make lemonade”.

“Bowel cancer screening in Aotearoa is an example of this anti-equity decision making. To be eligible for the screening programme, currently being rolled out across the country, people need to be 60 years or older. But 45% of Māori bowel cancer occurs under 60, compared with only 21% of bowel cancer in non-Māori. There have been repeated calls for changes to this age range that will support health equity, and what we need now is immediate change”

Dr McKree Jansen will be presenting the NHC Submission with Ms Tammy Dehar, a senior manager within NHC who leads the organisation’s strategic projects and Wai 2575 claims.

“The Māori Affairs Committee can and should make recommendations on how to embed equity. This means creating accountability for equity within the health system and addressing the wide range of things that keep us well or make us unwell - like housing and education and incarceration. These areas were also covered by the recent Waitangi Tribunal Hauora report, and we would like to see the Committee add its voices in support of a health system that honours the Treaty” says NHC Chief Executive Simon Royal.


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