May 13, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Waikato District Health Board is offering pregnant Maori mums gift vouchers to quit smoking

3 min read

If you are up to 28 weeks pregnant, smoke and are Maori or Pasifika, Waikato District Health Board (DHB) may have up to $250 worth of gift vouchers to give you.

The offer is part of the Hapu Mama incentive programme to encourage 30 pregnant mums in the Waikato to give up smoking.

waidhbDr Nina Scott, a public health doctor at Waikato District Health Board, says incentives recognise that strong support is needed to help women quit smoking during a time when they have a lot going on in their lives.

New Zealands high rate of smoking during pregnancy for Maori women is a public health emergency, says Dr Scott (photo).

Dr Scott, who works with Waikato DHBs Maori Health Service Te Puna Oranga, says the time has come to put in some serious effort to address maternal smoking.

“The impact of smoking on the mums and their unborn babies is very clear. However pregnancy can be a difficult time and it is easy to postpone quitting smoking until later. So rewards like recognition and a gift vouchers along the way really help keep the mums on track during those important months when the baby needs all the help it can get,” she says.

Te Puna Oranga general manager Ditre Tamatea says that his unit works with a wide range of services to support Maori to quit smoking. “The incentive programme is simply there to support women to give up smoking, and at the end of the day, rewards are nice to have but the greatest incentive will be to protect the health of the baby.”

The gift vouchers are for things like groceries, petrol and The Warehouse, but cannot be used for cash, cigarettes or alcohol. The vouchers will be given at one, four, eight and 12 weeks after women stop smoking, to a total value of about $250. Each woman will also receive a pair of earrings especially designed and made for the “Hapu Mama initiative by local Maori artist Nicola Te Kiri.

The women will also get face-to-face support from local smoking cessation services and free nicotine replacement therapy. Smokefree status will be validated by a simple test that measures their carbon monoxide levels.

Statistics show that if someone stays smokefree for 30 days they are five times more likely to stop for life.

The high rate of maternal smoking is an area of focus for Waikato DHBs Maternity Quality and Safety Programme, as smoking during pregnancy contributes to higher rates of miscarriage, low-birth weight babies, problems during childbirth, sudden infant death syndrome, asthma and glue ear, as well as the health risks for the mother.

Similar programmes are run successfully overseas, and Counties Manukau DHB started an incentive programme late last year, which has been very successful.

The Waikato pilot programme is based on the Counties Manukau model and is focused on Maori and Pacific mothers because they have a much higher rate of maternal smoking than Pakeha women. “More than 50% of pregnant Maori women in the Waikato smoke compared to about 10% of pregnant Pakeha women,” Dr Scott says.

“A Smokefree pregnancy is one of the best ways to promote a healthy pregnancy and baby.”

“We are putting out a call for pregnant Maori women (up to 28 weeks) across the Waikato to get in touch with us and discuss enrolling on the programme.”

That includes women living in Thames, Coromandel, Taumarunui, Te Kuiti, Kawhia, Raglan, Otorohanga, Tokoroa, Hamilton, Huntly, Ngaruawahia, and all the areas in between.

Women who are Maori and within 28 weeks of pregnancy can text 021 762 579 or call 07 838 2569 to find out more.

1 thought on “Waikato District Health Board is offering pregnant Maori mums gift vouchers to quit smoking

  1. I hate discrimination in all its manifestations, And there is a special place in hell reserved for those who promulgate positive discrimination. Why isn’t this ‘initiative’ being offered to all pregnant women, regardless of race? If not, this is racial discrimination, isn’t it? I suspect this is another scheme dreamed up by ivory towered politicians/clinicians/senior administrators who have no idea about nicotine addiction first hand. Of course, the women will cynically take the ‘gelt’ but if you think that it will have any serious impact on pregnant Maori women smoking rates then you are not attuned to reality. What a complete waste of tax payers money. Furthermore, Maori should feel insulted by this move. They are being offered shiny trinkets to give up a bad habit. What does that say about Maori? And what does it say about the people who dream up this crap? Remember the instigators are predominantly, white, middle aged, middle class men. It simply reinforces the predominant stereotype among Europeans about Maori that they are ‘child like’ and not be judged by the white man’s superior mores. I Maori are not insulted by this initiative they must be pregnant.

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