Ministry’s block on Māori health info an embarrassment

The Ministry of Health’s decision to go to court rather than handing over patient data to Māori health providers to help them lift Covid vaccination rates among Māori is an embarrassment, says National’s Whānau Ora spokesperson Harete Hipango.

“I support Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency’s chief executive John Tamihere in his decision to take the Ministry of Health to court for refusing to hand over the personal details of unvaccinated Māori. It’s a kick up the backside and the Government needs to hurry up and do what they’ve been pressured to do for weeks.

“The facts are clear. Māori are 50 per cent more likely to die from Covid than Pākehā. Meanwhile, just 58 per cent of eligible Māori have had their first jab, compared to 80 per cent for the general population.

“The rate of vaccinated Māori is so low because the Government has ignored advice from those eager to drive numbers up.

“Before vaccines even arrived, National’s deputy leader Dr Shane Reti wrote to Health Minister Andrew Little asking for financial support for Māori health providers so they could play an important role in the vaccine rollout. It went no further than a conversation until months after, when it was too late.

“National’s ‘Opening Up’ plan clearly sets out how it would resource Māori to get vaccination rates higher, including resourcing to Whānau Ora and Māori health providers to let them develop programmes that will actually work. It would allow data held by District Health Boards and Primary Health Organisations about patients to be automatically accessed by Whānau Ora providers, and would establish a Rangatahi Advisory Group to specifically advise on how to engage with young people.

“Where is the plan from Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare, whose job it is to protect our Māori communities?

“In the meantime, we’ll be strongly backing the Super Saturday vaccination event on October 16 but we and Te Whānau O Waipareira still have concerns about what it will achieve for Māori.

“My message to all New Zealanders, especially Māori, is help drive the numbers up by going out and getting vaccinated on Super Saturday.”

You can read National's full 'Opening Up' plan here.