Tuesday, April 16, 2024

$2.2m boost to rainbow health

Access to health care services will become easier for transgender people, with $2.2 million in Government funding to see the establishment of eight primary health care providers able to provide gender affirming care to gender diverse people, Associate Minister of Health, Ayesha Verrall announced today.

“As we continue our work to reform the health system, we are ensuring the needs of those who been excluded and traditionally underserved are met,” Dr Verrall said.

Gender affirming care aims to support a person’s healthcare goals which may include exploration of gender expression, support around social transition, hormone therapy as well as other treatment.

“Additionally we are developing guidelines, a lead referral pathway, and workforce training resources to ensure that health care provided to gender diverse people is consistent across the country,” the Minister said.

“For far too long gender diverse people have experienced poorer physical and mental health outcomes compared to the general population. Our commitment is to build a health system that treats people with fairness and dignity, that is why we’re making sure it becomes more responsive to people who have faced exclusion and prejudice.

“Many talented and caring people already work tirelessly to support gender diverse people, with clinical leaders already working closely with the community. This supports the work that has already been underway.

Additionally, as part of the Government’s commitment to protect the rights of intersex whānau within Aotearoa, $2.5 million in funding from Budget 22 will go to supporting best practice health care for intersex children and young people

“We are funding workforce training and development for health professionals caring for intersex youth and investing in peer support services and informative resources for intersex youth and their whānau”, Dr Verrall said.

“This will empower intersex children and young people and their whānau to make informed decisions about medical interventions and will better protect the rights of intersex children and young people within the health system and prevent unnecessary medical interventions from occurring.

“We’ve seen positive change in the care of people with variations of sex characteristics, particularly in children over the past 20 years. However, we know there is more we can do to support health and wellbeing outcomes for intersex people in a way that upholds their rights.”

Many health professionals, especially those who are not specialists in the care of intersex children and young people have expressed a lack of complete knowledge in how to properly care for those who are intersex, the Minister said.

“That’s why clinical guidelines will be developed for the care of all intersex children and young people. These will be created with a range of experts including clinical professionals and people with lived experience.”

“People with intersex variations may experience lifelong physical and mental health effects following a decision to undergo a procedure to modify sex characteristics. 

“As the World Health Organisation and other United Nations agencies have stated procedures to ‘normalise’ intersex bodies can have irreversible, life-long physical and mental health consequences. This funding will be a boost for intersex children, young people and their whānau to make informed decisions and improve their health and wellbeing.

“We are working to ensure Aotearoa is the best place in the world to be a child. Intersex children are an important part of this vision, they have the right to live in a way they choose, and to have their bodily autonomy respected within our health system.

“To achieve that we also need to see an attitudinal shift in our health system from a medicalised model of intersex health care, towards on that focuses on providing the support and services that intersex people need to live in the way they choose,” she said.

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