Today I am attending a symposium organised by the NZMA on health inequities to coincide with the visit of Sir Michael Marmot from the UK. I have blogged before about the influence of Sir Michael on the excellent NZMA statement on health equity.
Its occasions like this that highlight just how ridiculous are the assertions of Maori privilege made by Don Brash. Just a couple of examples have been highlighted by Tony Blakely from Otago University and Don Simmers and Norman Sharpe from the NZMA.
- despite improvements in the first decade of this century Maori life expectancy is 7-8 years short of non-Maori.
- mortaility rates for Maori in middle age are 2-3 tomes higher than non-Maori including all causes such as heart disease.
- Maori babies are 5 times more likely to die of sudden infant death syndrome than non-Maori
- diabetes rates, suicide rates and infectious disease rates and mortality are all higher for Maori than non-Maori
Health inequities are certainly relate to economic depravation,and it was a good achievement that income inequality in New Zealand did reduce slightly in the 2000s under Labour, but there is much more to do. It is also clear that there is an ethnic component above and beyond that. Addressing this is not privileging a group, it is in fact correcting a systemic disadvantage. Doing so, with early intervention, will benefit us all in promoting social inclusion and reducing the cost of expensive health interventions at a later stage.