Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia was the guest of honour at the launch of a new Pasifika-oriented health service in Hamilton yesterday.
The launch, at the Verandah Cafe and Function Centre at Lake Rotoroa, marked the successful establishment of the Midlands Pacific Provider Network and was attended by around 150 people.
The network consists of Pacific Providers across the Midlands region including the Waikato and South Waikato, Tauranga, Rotorua, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay and Taranaki.
The Aere Tai Collective, as it is known, is a Ministry of Health-driven and funded initiative, intended to strengthen and support the efficient and effective delivery of healthcare services to Pacific Island people in the Midlands region.
The event was attended by about 150 people and concluded with the signing of the Lake Rotoroa Aere Tai Network Accord by all the members of the network.
Turia provided the keynote speech. Other speakers included chief executive Peta Karalus and Hamilton City councillor and Waikato District Health Board member Martin Gallagher.
A 2012 report by the Midlands Health Network and K'aute Pasifika found there were plenty of health issues facing people of Pasifika descent in the region.
These included diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, rheumatic fever, pertussis and meningococcal disease.
The gap in life expectancy at birth between Pacific and Non-Maori non-Pacific (NMNP) decreased during the 2000s but then worsened again, leaving a similar gap over the past 15 years. The average discrepancy in 1996-98 was 6.5 years, and it remained 6.3 in 2009-11.
The two main causes contributing to the negative life expectancy change were diabetes and infectious diseases.
Tobacco smoking is one of the greatest preventable health risks for Pacific - 31 per cent smoke regularly, compared with 18 per cent for NMNP.
Diet is also a major issue, with higher saturated fat and soft drink consumption. Over a third of Pacific people drank soft drinks three or more times a week.
- Waikato Times