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Executive Director Matthew Tukaki of the New Zealand Māori Council has welcomed a PHARMAC review that was announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister Andrew Little today.
The review will consist of following through with an election promise to conduct an independent review into PHARMAC by focusing on how it performs against current objectives and maximising its potential to improve health outcomes for all New Zealanders as part of the wider health system.
Timeliness of decision making from PHARMAC within new medicines and transparency and accessibility of decision making-processes will be part of the review process.
For the last two years, a push for a review was demanded by Mr Tukaki; on the ways and means drugs are funded within Māori health outcomes on schedule.
“The reality has been that Māori health disparities are vast and often rely on drug treatments that can be unaffordable and therefore unobtainable,” said Mr Tukaki.
“You will all remember the work we did to support the Mulholland’s on bringing about the Māori Affairs Select Committee Inquiry into Cancer Disparities amongst Māori, and that really highlighted that the scheduling process meant that our people were just not getting access to life-saving and affordable medications.”
Māori life expectancy is lower than non-Māori which brings to light the sorts of illnesses that are diagnosed at the mid to tail end of the disease.
Accountability in regards to scheduling needed to be more conscious of the unique underpinning of primary health. It is why there need to be reflective processes in its proper schedule.
“I do believe this is not just about throwing more money at an ever-increasing challenge – the fact is that advancement in medical technical and pharmaceuticals is rapid, much more so than it would have been fifty years ago, so we need to strike the right balance between the pace advancement in life-saving and prolonging medications with the demands of people.” said Mr Tukaki.
“The Minister of Health is right and so is the Prime Minister – to address the issues that confront us we need to take a look at the process itself and where improvements can be made lets be bold and brave in getting the job done.”
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