Frontline Pasifika healthcare teams given $19.5m boost to fight covid-19

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The Fono's Tima Hunt ... “They really appreciate what we do, going and doing that special requirement." Image: PMC screenshot TVNZ

By Barbara Dreaver, TVNZ One Pacific correspondent

Frontline Pasifika healthcare teams have been given a NZ$19.5 million funding boost in New Zealand as they work around the clock to fight covid-19 at the community level.

A mobile team from health provider, The Fono, is just one of several critical to stemming the tide of covid-19 in the Pasifika community, which makes up three-quarters of all positive cases in the current outbreak.

Testing in homes has found several positive cases from those unable or too afraid to go to a testing station.

READ MORE: Churches key to stemming spread of covid-19 in Pasifika community

“We had a case where there was somebody on the property that wasn’t actually listed to be tested but we did an opportunistic test on them and we caught a positive case,” The Fono public health manager Emily Hughes said.

Medical staff who can speak the first language of Pasifika households are key to testing.

“Understanding the cultural norms and practises of our families are also quite critical, but also it’s the trust and the relationship with these families that help them during the times that is high anxiety,” The Fono chief executive Tevita Funaki said.

The government has since provided almost $20 million in an urgent response for Pasifika healthcare providers.

Contact tracing importance
“This is important, especially for contact tracing because in order to get the right information, it’s really important that we have people that can speak the different Pacific languages,” Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa said.

Along with its normal welfare work, The Fono is looking after 230 families who have tested positive for covid-19 or are close contacts currently in isolation.

“It could range from support for the young children, what are their needs, to the elderly to the whole family,” Funaki said. “We also provide a crisis immediate support around utilities and rent and so forth for this short period of time.”

Providing food has also been critical, having provided close to 700 food packages to families in need yesterday. More packages will be going out today to vulnerable Pasifika households and families in isolation due to coronavirus.

“They really appreciate what we do, going and doing that special requirement, shopping for them – things that we might not have available here at our Fono,” team leader Tima Hunt said.

TVNZ’s Barbara Dreaver reports are republished with permission.

The Fono testing
A mobile team from health provider The Fono is just one of several critical to stemming the tide of covid-19 in Auckland’s Pasifika community. Image: PMC screenshot TVNZ
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