Govt allocates $17m to support Pacific communities through COVID-19

By Heta Gardiner

The government has allocated $17 million to support Pacific communities as part of a COVID-19 Pacific response package.

The package will support Pacific health and disability services facing increased demand and will help ramp up public health messaging and guidance for Pacific communities in Pacific languages.

It will also go towards rolling out a new outreach programme to put non-clinical health support staff into Pacific communities and link high-risk Pacific people with important services.

Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa says, “New Zealand mobilised quickly against COVID-19 by locking the country down and encouraging people to stay at home. However, our Pacific communities face unique challenges that require a targeted response to keep our communities well and out of hospital emergency rooms.”

The latest figures show Pacific Pacific peoples make up 3.4 percent of cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand, equalling 38 cases.

The Manukau East MP says Pacific communities in New Zealand are highly urbanised, with larger family sizes than the average population and many are living in overcrowded housing.

"As a result, Pacific families face a higher risk of rapid COVID-19 spread if actions like those announced to stop the spread of the virus are not adhered to.”

The funding follows the Government's allocation last month of $57m to support Māori communities and businesses through COVID-19.