Set them up to win! National's Dr Shane Reti says Māori and iwi health providers are going to be key to the vaccination rollout and says he will be putting his hand up to help reach vulnerable communities.
Reti sent a letter to Health Minister Andrew Little asking for extra funding for the providers in tens of millions of dollars to help build capacity.
He says Māori have the answers.
"When there's a civil defence emergency, who do they reach out to? Marae and rūnanga."
The National deputy leader says the vaccination plan needs to be robust and Māori, iwi and rūnanga health providers need to be funded to go hard to reach communities across the country.
"Let's keep in mind we're potentially rolling out to the general population on July 1. Very quickly we need to have those conversations. Here are the outcomes we are looking for. What do you need? What do you need to get to these outcomes?"
An impassioned Dr Reti told Te Ao Māori News, "They need to be set up to win and not to fail."
A spokesperson at Little's office said the letter had arrived "but the content sits within the delegation of Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare and is being dealt with following the appropriate process."
The letter, dated February 23, 2021, said:
Re: Maori and iwi health providers facilitating the coronavirus vaccine rollout
I am of a view that the current coronavirus pandemic and the need to roll out a comprehensive vaccination program is a 1 in a 100 year opportunity for Maori and iwi health providers to demonstrate some of what they are best at doing. This is especially so for embracing hard to reach communities such as remote rural.
To reach this potential providers will need funding and support to capacity build. They need to be set up to win and not to fail.
This letter then asks for financial support for Maori health providers to assist with the coronavirus vaccine programme.
I would envisage financial support could be in the range of 10’s of millions above current baselines for the initial rollout and capacity building that would then be in place for future years and further vaccination endeavours such as measles.
I would appreciate your attention to this please.
Dr Shane Reti QSM
National Party Health Spokesperson
There are more than 70 Māori health providers listed on the Ministry of Health website and Reti says it's a golden opportunity
"This is a one in a 100-year pandemic and I'm of the view that this is a 1 in 100-year opportunity for Māori health providers to show what they're good at to reach into communities that mainstream can't reach," he says.
The doctor says he plans on using his background a nd relationships to ensure better outcomes for iwi Māori