Diabetes treatment in NZ racist, claims group of medical experts

A group of medical experts says the way diabetes is treated in New Zealand is racist.

A woman uses a blood sugar test. Source:

Rawiri Jansen, one of the co-authors of a new editorial published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, is calling for Pharmac to fund two drugs that could dramatically improve the lives of people with diabetes.

He said the disease was affecting Māori and Pasifika communities much more, calling it an epidemic.

Jansen told Morning Report there were a number of factors why it is racist.

"It's how we design and deploy a health system which doesn't address a very clear need. You look at diabetes as a great example, it's affecting Māori and Pacific populations much more, it is in the form of an epidemic. There's things we can do that can change it. If we don't do those things then that's a reasonable accusation to say that's inaction in the face of need ... that's a form of racism."

He said Pharmac needed to look at different inputs to get equitable outcomes.

"Pharmac has got a role in figuring out how to work with the sector to make sure that these medicines are prescribed appropriately and as soon as possible to this group of patients who need them."

He called on the health sector to lifts its game too.