TAMARIKI (young) Maori in Southland are set to benefit from a new programme aimed at improving care for those with respiratory infections.
Awarua Whanau Services, WellSouth Primary Health Network and Southern District Health Board (SDHB) have partnered on Harti Hauora – a programme for Maori tamariki admitted to Southland Hospital with respiratory infections.
SDHB chief Maori health strategy and improvement officer Gilbert Taurua said while hospital admissions for respiratory infections were lower throughout Aotearoa this year, due to Covid-19, there were as many as 60 Maori under 5 years old with repeat admissions to Southland Hospital in previous years.
“These are unacceptably high numbers and, in many cases, the admissions are preventable.
“Our Maori populations are not accessing care at the same levels that others in the community are and Harti Hauora is an important step forward in helping us to address health inequity and improving access to care – particularly preventive care – for Maori.”
When tamariki were admitted to Southland Hospital with respiratory infections, a dedicated kaiawhina (advocate) from Awarua Whanau Services would visit tamariki and their whanau at the children’s ward, assess what services they had access to and help them get any other health care or community-based support they needed.
It could mean enrolling with a general practice, accessing oral health services, registering for a B4 School Check, catching up on immunisations and connecting with WellChild/Tamariki Ora or early childhood education services.
The kaiawhina could also help the whanau to access other programmes to improve their overall health and well-being.
The goal of Harti Hauora was to avoid hospital admissions for children’s respiratory infections by supporting the health of their whanau, he said.
Awarua Whanau Services mama (mother) and pepi (child)/mokopuna (grandchild) ora kaiarahi (co-ordinator) and Harti Hauora kaiawhina Deli Diack said it was not just about providing access to health services for tamariki Maori, it was about dealing with whanau in a culturally-appropriate and respectful manner.
“We prioritised the relationship to foster better, and hopefully lasting, connections to healthcare.”
WellSouth associate Maori health officer Peter Ellison said general practices and community-based providers had a vital role in the Harti Hauora programme.
“Engaging or re-engaging with general practice or a Maori health provider is the foundation for whanau ora (family health).”
Harti Hauora was not a fix but part of a journey, he said.
“Enrolling with a GP and making primary care a first point of contact is really important for ensuring ongoing good health, helping people have access to the care they need and funded services throughout childhood, adolescents and throughout their lifetime.”