ACEM launches Māori equity strategy

Some gains have been made over the last 30 years to improve health outcomes for Māori. Despite these gains, Māori continue to experience consistent and compelling disparities in health outcomes, exposure to the determinants of ill-health, lack of health system responsiveness and the under-representation of Māori in the health workforce.

ACEM will launch its strategy for excellence in emergency care for Māori at this week’s Winter Symposium in Rotorua, Aotearoa New Zealand. The Manaaki Mana strategy is built upon the pillars of Pae Ora (healthy futures for whānau), Whānau Ora (healthy families), Wai Ora (healthy environments) and Mauri Ora (healthy individuals).

These pillars align with those in Aotearoa’s He Korowai Oranga, the established national framework for Māori health.

FACEM Dr Claire Manning is a member of the ACEM steering group that has developed Manaaki Mana over the past two years. She says achieving equity in health outcomes between Māori and non-Māori people is a complex challenge.

‘I think it requires individuals and organisations to acknowledge that there is a problem, and I think firstly it’s really heartening to see ACEM acknowledging that problem and rising to the challenge of resolving it.’

Manaaki Mana seeks to redress some of the imbalances and misunderstandings in culture and care for Māori that contribute to disparate health outcomes.

One of the ways it does this is to encourage emergency departments and staff to incorporate Tikanga (customary Māori values and practices) into daily life, and to use Te Reo Māori (the Māori language).

‘Bringing Tikanga into EDs will go a very long way towards making many Māori feel safe and respected,’ Claire says.

‘When Māori are safe, respected and are given the healthcare they deserve, then the gap will start to close.’

Tikanga includes things such as being respectful of a person’s head, which is considered sacred (tapu). This includes, for example, asking before touching a person’s head and not sitting on pillows or placing or leaving bodily fluids on or near them. Pillows, and items such as hats, are associated with the head and accordingly should be treated with care.

As part of the strategy, ACEM will conduct training for trainees, members and staff to understand tikanga and how it fits into Te Ao Māori and can contribute to the safety of Māori in emergency departments.

The strategy also focuses on the development of Māori emergency physicians and the Māori workforce. It establishes targets to recruit and retain Māori doctors in the FACEM Training Program and to develop relationships with Māori bodies to develop a greater awareness of emergency medicine as a career path for Māori.

A Manaaki Mana Implementation Steering Group will monitor the College’s progress to implement the recommendations in the Manaaki Mana Strategy. You can follow our successes here.

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