Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Pharmacy’s prioritise Pacific and Māori ethnic groups for healthcare this winter

The pharmaceutical industry is taking important steps to address the specific healthcare needs of diverse ethnic groups. 

One such initiative is the Community Pharmacy Minor Ailments Service, offering support to certain ethnic groups with common conditions.

According to Community Pharmacy Minor Ailments Service “Pharmacies in selected areas are allowed to consult and provide treatment aids for a range of ‘common, uncomplicated conditions which can be diagnosed and managed without medical intervention”.

“The service is eligible for children under 14 (and their whānau if they have the same illness), Community Service Card holders, or Māori and Pacific people” they stated.

Guidance from Te Whatu Ora states “teams should consider how patient ethnicity can be determined in a sensitive manner to avoid difficult conversations for both the patient and your team.”

The goal is to build trust between healthcare providers and patients from diverse backgrounds. Prioritising ethnicities aims to address health disparities affecting specific communities without promoting divisions. 

However critics worry that pharmacists determining patient ethnicity may be unfair, but Te Whatu Ora advises sensitivity and respectful conversations. 

Health spokesperson for ACT Brooke van Velden. Photo: Mark Mitchell

Brooke van Velden, Health spokesperson for ACT, questions the approach taken by Te Whatu Ora.

“It’s racial separatism a step further and is now asking pharmacists to act as ethnic enforcers” she says. 

“Labour’s race-based provision of healthcare has gone far enough. The equity adjuster tool prioritises Māori and Pacific people on surgical waitlists in Auckland, access to certain medicines is determined by ethnicity,” she adds.

But supporters argue that this helps promote inclusivity and reach those who need healthcare the most.

While some resist this shift, it’s essential to understand it aims to improve health for marginalised communities. 

Between 12 June and end of September 2023, participating pharmacies in selected approved areas are:

  • Northern Region: Northland, Waitematā, Auckland and Counties Manukau.
  • Te Manawa Taki Region: Bay of Plenty.
  • Central Region: MidCentral, Capital & Coast, Hutt Valley.
  • Te Waipounamu Region: Canterbury, Southern.



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