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Gap in health equity between Māori, non-Māori ‘unfair, unjust’, Health Ministry says on World Health Day

The Ministry of Health joined the WHO in its World Health Day calls for action to eliminate health inequities, as it admitted the gap in health equity between Māori and non-Māori was "unfair and unjust".  

Source: istock.com

World Health Day, April 7, "highlights the principle: the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition'," Ministry of Health Deputy Director-General Māori Health John Whaanga said today in a statement. 

“In Aotearoa New Zealand, we also acknowledge that people have differences in health that are not only avoidable but unfair and unjust,” Whaanga said. 

“We know there is a significant gap in health equity between Mâori and other New Zealanders: Māori are more likely to die than non-Māori at all ages and Māori health status remains unequal with non-Māori across almost all chronic and infectious diseases, as well as injuries.

“This Ministry stands behind Te Tiriti o Waitangi and is dedicated to the achievement of equitable health outcomes for all Māori."

Whaanga said the ministry is also "committed to addressing racism and discrimination in the health and disability system", which is "reflected as a key outcome" in its Whakamaua: Mâori Health Action Plan, Ola Manuia: The Pacific Health and Wellbeing Plan, the New Zealand Cancer Action Plan and its Covid-19 response.

"While some gains have been made, more work needs to be done to achieve health equity for whānau Māori living in New Zealand."

He added that health inequities are "preventable and achieving equity within the New Zealand health system is a priority". 

"We can all contribute to achieving equity by being open to look at new ways of doing things, and by challenging our own preconceptions about how things should work," he said. 

"We all have a part to play in creating a future health and disability system that is equitable for all and free from all forms of racism and discrimination – mehemea ka mahi ngâtahi tâtou, ka taea ngâ mea katoa. If we work together, anything is achievable."