Inequalities in child health between tamariki Māori and non-Māori are largely preventable and unnecessary. An example is rheumatic fever, where tamariki Māori are 30 times more likely to contract the disease than non-Māori.
Being ill as a child has a big impact on school attendance and outcomes, and it may cause lifelong disability or illness. There are high costs involved, both for the health system and for society.
What is the cost of Māori health inequities in Aotearoa?
In New Zealand, the most compelling and consistent health inequalities occur between Māori and non-Māori. Although the cost of reducing inequalities is perceived as high, a recent study for Māori children showed that the economic cost of “doing nothing” is significant for New Zealand society highlighting the fact that such inequalities are preventable, unnecessary and a breach of human rights.
In 2012, a wave of youth suicides in Northland featured far too many of Ngātiwai descent. 19 people under 25 years took their own lives, a huge increase from 5 the year before (Penney & Dobbs, 2014). Suicide rates for Māori youth in Te Tai Tokerau, including the Ngātiwai rohe, is therefore a major public health issue.
While all hospitalisations can be stressful for patients and their whānau, hospitalisations involving transfers away from home can be even more so and can present unique issues in terms of how whānau negotiate distance, unfamiliarity, active engagement and help-seeking. In this study, we are interested in better understanding how whānau facilitate support and remain actively engaged in the ‘care equation’ when a whānau member is transferred or hospitalised away from their home location.
Māori are more likely to be assessed and treated by a health practitioner trained within a western cultural system that pays little attention to Māori worldviews. Māori continue to experience misdiagnosis, non-voluntary admissions, inappropriate psychometric testing, high suicide rates, limited choices, differences in medication regimes and poorer treatment outcomes.