Hawke’s Bay District Health Board’s third Health Equity report provides a stark reminder that constant attention, and new ways of working are needed to maintain progress to eliminate inequities in health.
Clinical director of Population Health Dr Nick Jones said this report and the district heath board’s Clinical Services Plan now provided the road map for future direction that would focus more on Kaupapa Māori and whanau-centered approaches that he believed would make real in-roads into reducing and eventually eliminating inequity.
“The bleakest message we still have, through this report, is - Māori, Pacific people and people living in areas of greater socio economic deprivation are still more likely to die early from avoidable causes.
“For Māori, avoidable deaths could be reduced by a quarter by improving heart health, and another quarter by addressing the current rates of mortality from lung cancer through smoke free living and by addressing the underlying causes of suicide and vehicle crashes.”
Dr Jones said despite much to work on, the third report did highlight a number of success stories made through effective community partnerships.
“We know from successful programmes both in Hawke’s Bay and elsewhere that tackling inequity needs system and culture change. There are many components to this and health can’t do this without the support, focus and commitment of our community partners.
“Hawke’s Bay’s high immunisation rates are a great example of how we can prevent inequity by developing ways of working differently to meet different cultural needs through wide-reaching community engagement,” Dr Jones said.
New to the report was the addition of a life chart that illustrated how health-related events, social, economic and physical environments and behaviors could either grow or deplete our health capacity.
Dr Jones said the life chart showed the importance of equity across the course of life, and tells the story of how events earlier in life influence health as we age.
The report also includes a new section on family violence. Dr Jones said, while it will take a community-wide effort to address family violence, health services had an important role to play in effective screening and early intervention.
The report also included a look at mental health inequities; such as the higher rate of hospital stays for mental illness and the rates of self-harm for Māori and women.
“New key findings show that hospital stays for assault are increasing. In 2016/17 Hawke’s Bay female assault hospital stay rates were higher than the national average and Hawke’s Bay Māori female rates of hospital stays due to assault were six times greater.”
“Along with our clinical services plan this health equity report will provide a framework of actions to change the trends in the focus areas identified. Work on this has already begun.
“I’d like to thank the many people who have been involved in developing this report. It has taken a significant amount of time to analyse, and study the data trends from our business intelligence unit, and there has been a significant contribution from our Māori Health colleagues,’ Dr Jones said.