Ministry publication prompts timely discussion about equity

News article

16 November 2018

A new Ministry of Health publication is set to provoke thought and prompt discussion about how health equity can be improved in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Achieving Equity in Health Outcomes underscores how in order to achieve equity in health, we all must recognise that different people have different levels of advantage and different experiences of health care and outcomes, and then set about addressing these differences.

The publication brings together global perspectives and best practice when it comes to raising health equity, taking into account the social, economic, historical, cultural, financial, and legal implications of inequity.

It also reviews equity’s sociological foundations and how the concept of improving equity is now a central aspect of contemporary policy development. The publication is significant because it considers the unique challenges to achieving equity in the Aotearoa New Zealand context:

‘Our ability to address equity challenges in health has improved significantly over the past decades […] However, persistent disparities in health access, quality of services and outcomes remain. In Aotearoa New Zealand, Māori and Pacific peoples and those in low socioeconomic groups are still the most disadvantaged.’

The value of Achieving Equity in Health Outcomes as a health resource is noted by Alison Thom, the Ministry’s Acting Deputy Director-General Māori Health.

‘Improving equity is a priority for the Ministry of Health. We know we must address the health inequities faced by Māori, Pacific peoples and people on lower incomes.

‘A key goal of the Ministry’s Equity Work Programme is to prompt discussion about what equity means and how it can be increased in Aotearoa New Zealand. This publication is an important tool for clinicians, academia, policy makers and the public, succinctly explaining what equity is and what we can all do to increase it.

‘As the publication highlights, we can only make real improvements in equity when people are looking at the world through an equity lens, thinking about and implementing those small changes to the way we do things which go on to have significantly better outcomes for everyone.’

A video featuring the Ministry’s former Chief Nurse Dr Jill Clendon discussing the role clinicians play in improving health equity was recently published online – watch it on Youtube: