‘We need a Pasifika voice’ plea for response to NZ’s Auckland covid

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Dr Api Talemaitoga ... "It's just an opportunity that I hope we do not lose, with 70 percent of the cases in the current cluster being of Pasifika decent." Image: Greg Bowker/RNZ

By RNZ Pacific

The chair of the Pasifika GP Network is calling on the government to ensure there is a Pacific voice on the new group overseeing testing at the country’s border.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday announced a small team to work with health officials running the testing regime.

It will be led by Heather Simpson, who recently did a review of the country’s health system, and Sir Brian Roche, who led the review of PPE use.

But Dr Api Talemaitoga said for the group to be effective, meaningful Pacific involvement was vital.

“It’s just an opportunity that I hope we do not lose, with 70 percent of the cases in the current cluster being of Pasifika decent.”

“I think all the talk about equity, which seems to be the latest fashion accessory, needs to be put into practice and we need a Pasifika voice.”

Pacific leadership needed
There needed to be a Pacific leadership with the current cluster, he said.

“There was no signalling to the Pacific community that ‘yes, we care about you, you’re very badly affected, you’re coming up with good testing numbers but we will wrap around a service led by one of your own who can really go to the community and get the community together…'”

Dr Talemaitoga said there was not a shortage of people who would be capable of taking on this role.

“This blindspot is a lost opportunity to get better culturally appropriate and sensitive advice during a pandemic.”

If the government does not have a Pasifika person at the table when there are high rates among the community in the current cluster, it would be a big failure, he said.

This article is republished by the Pacific Media Centre under a partnership agreement with RNZ.

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