Extra support is being made available to Māori and Pacific communities as they continue to face the impact of the current Omicron outbreak, Minister for Whanau Ora and Associate Minister of Health, Peeni Henare said today.
“We know Omicron is likely to disproportionately affect Māori and Pasifika communities and the Government is committed to making sure vulnerable whanau received the support and care they deserve,” Mr Henare said.
“With Omicron cases increasing it is important whānau have the support they need to self-isolate and stop the spread of the virus.”
He said the support is in addition to the Care in the Community boost the Government announced last week to help all families who need to self-isolate as well as the social service organisations and community providers working hard to support them.
Using the $140 million funding, 160 Māori and Pacific health providers will together support Māori and Pacific households throughout Aotearoa, the Minister said.
“We know our funding to date has made a huge difference in lifting vaccination rates and reducing the vulnerability of whānau, but the fight is not over yet and Omicron presents a whole raft of new challenges.”
“The focus of this current response is to enable Māori health providers to scale up their efforts, to support the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agencies to directly get resources to the people most in need, and for the Māori Communities COVID Fund to support community agencies in complementary ways.
“We have seen how the rapid response by our Māori health and community providers works fast and effectively. Their models of care have been crucial in the government’s COVID-19 response for their own communities.”
Minister for Māori Development, Willie Jackson said Māori providers have shown their strength and agility when dealing with previous outbreaks.
“This investment will enable them to deliver immediate, flexible, holistic support where it’s needed most,” he said.
“We saw that in action when Māori vaccination rates increased from 69% to 90% for first dose in just 3.5 months. The Māori Communities COVID-19 Fund going directly to Māori providers, including iwi, supported this acceleration.”
Minister for Māori Crown Relations, Kelvin Davis said that since the COVID-19 outbreak the Government has acted to ensure New Zealanders are supported to respond to the threats on our people and economy.
“A key strategy for accelerating vaccinations has been to support the aunties, uncles and community leaders who are known, trusted, and listened to within their communities. We need to continue approaches that best look after our people, so they are prepared in the face of Omicron,” Mr Davis said.
Minister for Pacific Peoples and Associate Minister of Health, Aupito William Sio said the investment will help Pacific health providers, particularly those outside the northern region, scale up the services they already provide to Pacific communities.
“Funding will go towards supporting their workforce resources including vaccination. I want to encourage innovative Pacific models of care with a focus on the immediate Omicron response. I want to communicate key public health messages in culturally appropriate ways.”
“The Pacific Aotearoa Communities Outreach initiative prioritises key initiatives that have proven successful in Pacific communities.
“This investment is innovative, comprehensive, and Pacific-focused, allowing Pacific Peoples to prepare for the next phase of COVID-19 and to respond and rebuild in the aftermath of Omicron,” the Minister said.