Even though Maori see their doctors as often as non-Maori, they receive significantly less follow-up care, a new report says.
The draft Taranaki Maori Health Strategy says Maori obtain fewer diagnostic tests, less effective treatment plans and are referred for secondary or tertiary procedures at significantly lower rates than non-Maori patients.
Officials say that disparity can be corrected only after a shift in public opinion.
At a meeting of the community and public health and disability support advisory committees this week, chairwoman Flora Gilkison said the disparity was not widely accepted.
“People hear something like that and think, `that can’t be right’,” she said. “They move on and forget about it.”
Open communication with the public was needed to reduce resistance to investment in the Maori health sector, Mrs Gilkison said.
“There is only a certain pie of resources and it is difficult to make people understand why it needs to be cut differently,’ she said. “Most people don’t know about the disparity.”
Deputy chairman Alex Ballantyne said the difference in levels of care was “ridiculous”.
“It’s like taking your car to a mechanic and finding out brown cars don’t get the same amount of work as white cars,” he said.
The draft strategy for 2009-2029 aims to improve Maori access to health and disability services and increase Maori participation in the health sector.
Also among its priorities are improving the responsiveness of mainstream health services to Maori needs and building relationships between Maori groups and health providers.