Don’t wait for someone else to address inequities in health, start doing what you can in your own backyard, says clinical researcher and Auckland GP Matire Harwood.
Dr Harwood (Ngāpuhi) used her Goodfellow Symposium address on racism and inequity as a call to action.
The Papakura Marae Medical Centre GP referenced the Wai 2575 claim, part of the Waitangi Tribunal’s Health Services and Outcomes Kaupapa Inquiry. This is seeing Māori push back against the marginalisation created by a system set up to serve one group above another.
“There are now ethnic differences across the board,” says Dr Harwood, “and these inequities are heartbreaking for people who are losing whānau much, much too early, to diseases that could be better treated.
“There are inequities across all pathways, from risk factors to disease rates and how, we as a system, respond...You need to be doing more…a lot of us think it is to up to somebody else to sort out, whereas you can start by focusing on your own backyards,” she says.
She pointed to several measures to bring about change, such as indigenous leadership, a Māori Health Authority, calling out racism, and the living wage.
She says Papakura Marae saw immediate effects from increasing pay rates.
“I have had whānau come and say this has been the biggest change…‘We can buy school bags, we can pay for lunches, there is a sense of pride to determine for ourselves how we spend that money and not struggle from week to week.’
“So, go to your workplace and see how you can support that as well.”