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A sustainable health system that benefits Māori and Pasifika

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Current government goals to address health inequities and climate change presents an opportunity for the health sector to strike two birds with one stone, argue members of the NZ Climate and Health Council. They say reducing District Health Board greenhouse gas emissions and driving better health outcomes for Māori and Pacifika can both be pursued at the same time. They offer up three scenarios, including making housing healthier, warmer and energy-efficient, replacing the DHB fleet for staff travel with electric cars (with savings reinvested in hard to reach, predominantly Māori rural areas), and an environmentally sustainable food plan.

Journal/conference: New Zealand Medical Journal

Organisation/s: University of Otago

Funder: Competing interests: Both authors are members of OraTaiao: The NZ Climate and Health Council. Dr Bennett is a member of the Sustainable Health Sector National Network NZ.

Media Release

From: New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA)

Pro-equity climate change and environmental sustainability action by district health boards in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Key points

  • Climate change is an urgent threat to health and health equity
  • Reducing health inequities, and responding to climate change, have both become priorities for District Health Boards in 2018
  • It is possible to achieve both these priorities at the same time by keeping equity at the centre of planned action to address climate change
  • Any new programme by DHBs must include pro-equity planning, otherwise inequities in health and healthcare for Māori and Pacific peoples can be perpetuated or worsened
  • Through climate and sustainability action, it is possible for DHBs to move beyond disease treatment to create health and equity solutions.

Summary

As outlined in the 2018 ‘Letter of Expectations’ from the Minister of Health, climate change action is now expected of DHBs. We argue that this - and all other - DHB action must be pro-equity to achieve fair health outcomes for Māori and Pacific populations. Three scenarios are proposed in the areas of DHB energy use, transport and purchasing where climate pollution could be reduced, and health determinants and outcomes for Māori and Pacific peoples improved. The scenarios show that by taking a sustainability and equity perspective, it is possible for DHBs to move beyond disease treatment to create health and equity solutions.

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New Zealand

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