It’s all about reducing inequities -and so Maori wellbeing is a big consideration in research funding and hospital administration

The Government has dished out public money on two fronts in its mission to reduce inequitable outcomes in health statistics.

On one front, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister Andrew Little joined a ceremony to bless the site and workers for Phase Two of the redevelopment of the Bay of Islands Hospital in Kawakawa yesterday,

The Government has invested $14 million in a project intended

“… to help the Northland District Health Board address inequitable health outcomes for Māori, by making services easier to access for communities,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“It is unacceptable that the place you live should determine the sort of healthcare get.”

Does this mean the Point of Order team can move to Stewart Island and be assured of the same health services that are being provided for the people of Kawakawa?

Oh, and let’s note that the local district health board in the Far North is being shunted aside for this development. 

The primary health services at the hospital in Kawakawa will be run by a local tribal health provider, Ngāti Hine Health Trust, which will lease part of the new building from the DHB.

A better deal for Maori comes into considerations when public health research funding is dispensed, too.

The funding is distributed through the Health Research Council, which says it recognises that all health research, to different degrees, can advance Māori health and reduce inequities. But (in effect) the greater the advance of Maori health and reduction of inequities, the better.

Therefore as part of its assessment process, the council scores a research proposal’s potential to advance Māori health.

And how is this measured?

The council explains:

“Māori health advancement, in the context of health research funded by the HRC, is defined as positive contributions to, and improvements of, Māori health and wellbeing, and/or reduction in health inequity.

“Alignment with the Māori Health Advancement criterion as well as other assessment criteria will strengthen an application.” 

The council’s Māori Health Advancement Guidelines are designed to help researchers describe how their proposed work will fit within this criterion.

In the upshot, while their research may focus on communities or populations other than Māori, applicants are advised:

“… you will still be required to consider how your research will also advance Māori health.”

The council provides a short video on its Māori Health Advancement page which offers further insights and views from well-known researchers regarding this criterion.

Point of Order checked out the eligibility criteria on learning that research into some of New Zealanders’ biggest health concerns – including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease –  is getting  support in the latest round of health research funding.

The funding, awarded through the Health Research Council of New Zealand, covers 31 General Project grants ($36.64 million), five Rangahau Hauora Māori grants ($5.91 million), five Pacific Project grants ($5.79 million), and four Programme grants ($19.99 million).

It looks like that adds up to around $68 million.

“The Government is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders, and research is a vital part of the plan,” Andrew Little said.

“This significant investment has the potential to vastly improve the health of New Zealanders.”

While Little didn’t mention the importance given by the council to benefits for Maori, he did recall that earlier this year he announced major reform of the health system.  He noted that Māori and Pacific peoples are twice as likely to die young from conditions that could have been treated, and being Māori or Pacific even determines what sort of treatment you get.

He also acknowledged that the successful applications for funding included projects led by Māori and Pacific researchers and driven by Kaupapa Māori and Pacific research methodologies, which are intended to reduce inequities in health for Māori and Pacific peoples.

Dr Jason Gurney (Ngāpuhi), who holds an HRC Māori Health Research Emerging Leader Fellowship, is being awarded nearly $800,000 to explore the growing crisis of diabetes and cancer co-occurrence and its impact on what happens to people with cancer.

The epidemiologist and senior research fellow at the University of Otago in Wellington wants to improve the quantity and quality of life for Māori and Pacific peoples who develop the diseases.

The two-year research project is a collaboration between the C3 Research Group and Professor Ross Lawrenson’s research group at the University of Waikato. It will explore the rapidly increasing rates of diabetes and cancer within Māori and Pasifika populations, and the impact of it becoming increasingly common for one person to have both conditions.

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Health

Government backs critical health research

Research into some of New Zealanders’ biggest health concerns including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease is getting crucial support in the latest round of health research funding, Health Minister Andrew Little announced

The funding, awarded through the Health Research Council of New Zealand, covers 31 General Project grants ($36.64 million), five Rangahau Hauora Māori grants ($5.91 million), five Pacific Project grants ($5.79 million), and four Programme grants ($19.99 million).

More information and the full list of successful projects can be found on the Health Research Council’s website.

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Hospitals

New Bay of Islands hospital facilities to bring services closer to home

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister Andrew Little have joined a ceremony to bless the site and workers for Phase Two of the redevelopment of the Bay of Islands Hospital in Kawakawa .

The new building will house outpatients and primary care facilities, as well as expanded renal care and new oncology and haematology services.

The Government has invested $14 million in this project to help the Northland District Health Board address inequitable health outcomes for Māori, by making services easier to access for communities, Ardern said.

The new facility is expected to be operational in late 2023. This is the second phase of redevelopment, following the completion of a two-storey building accommodating a new Accident and Medical Centre and a 20-bed inpatient ward in 2018.

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