New Report Highlights Challenges of Healthcare for Pacific People in New Zealand

A report released today paints a concerning picture of the health care challenges faced by Pasifika peoples in New Zealand and calls for ambitious changes to the system to be made urgently.

Bula Sautu: A window on quality 2021: Pacific health in the year of COVID-19 was launched in Parliament today by Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio. The report is the latest in a series of ‘window’ publications from the Health Quality & Safety Commission (the Commission). It considers the health of Pacific peoples and provides a snapshot view of how the health system is working (or not working) for them.

The 110 page report is the product of a partnership and co-development process between the Commission and Drs Corina Grey, Api Talemaitoga, and Debbie Ryan. It includes contributions from many Pacific health and community leaders, clinicians and health workers. The Commission convened a consumer advisory group comprised of Pacific consumers on 27 May 2021 to respond to the findings of Bula Sautu.

Examples from the report highlight:

  • Pacific People live on average six fewer years that non Māori and non Pacific
  • Less than half (47%) of pregnant Pacific women were registered with a lead maternity carer (LMC) in 2018 compared with 81% of non Māori and non Pacific women
  • Pacific children subsequently experience a higher range of conditions including asthma, dental problems, ear and skin infections than other children from other ethnic groups
  • Lack of national data on the health of Pacific youth, but data suggests rising rates of depressive symptoms and attempted suicide in Pacific youth and barriers to accessing healthcare

Associate Professor of Public Health Dr. Colin Tukuitonga, Associate Dean Pacific at the University of Auckland and a Commission board member, says Pasifika peoples who call Aotearoa New Zealand home have been denied their right to health and well being for decades despite clear evidence that inequities exist in almost all health conditions reported.

‘We need a health system that enables Pacific peoples to identify and design Pacific solutions. Leaders and decision-makers in our training establishments and professions must take decisive action to support and grow the Pacific workforce required at all levels of the system.”

Addressing whole-family issues and social determinants of health through comprehensive inter-agency cooperation using a family “wrap around” service, consultation with Pacific communities and stakeholders over whether Pacific health needs its own specific leadership and commissioning context, allowing the system to enable Pacific peoples to identify and design Pacific solutions are a few of the recommendations made in the report.

Image credit: Health Quality and Safety Commission New Zealand (From ‘Future Mana’ by Telly Tuita)