The Green Party is calling on the Government to focus long-term COVID-19 support on whānau, hapū and community service providers helping Māori and Pasifika.
“With the Government set to change the current COVID-19 protection framework, it is more important than ever that support is available for whānau, hapū and community service providers who are out there doing the mahi with our Māori and Pasifika whānau,” says Teanau Tuiono, COVID-19 response spokesperson.
“Throughout the pandemic we have seen that when we work together, we can keep each other healthy and safe.
“Whatever the Government announces on Wednesday, the pandemic is far from over. It will continue to be felt most by whānau and so we need to step up resourcing those providers to look after whānau long-term, especially as the Government looks to remove public health protections.
“For Māori and Pasifika, whose lives, family units and communities are often structured completely differently, self-isolation isn’t always an easy option. And because of that, whānau are not getting tested as a lot of them cannot afford to isolate, let alone physically self-isolate.
“Those providers must be given the funding they need to determine what care looks like for their communities, since they are best placed to know what will help the whānau they are working with in the long-run,” says Teanau Tuiono.
The Greens also want to see a well-resourced Māori- and Pasifika-led approach to vaccination against COVID-19 and other childhood infections, including influenza, to improve vaccination coverage before the winter season.
“Health experts are clear that three doses of vaccine are required for a high level of protection against Omicron. Right now, only around 59% of Māori and 60% of Pacific peoples have had their third dose.
“When it comes to eligible children, only 35% of tamariki Māori have had their first done, compared with 57% for Pākehā children.
“Boosting childhood vaccinations for diseases like whooping cough and measles is crucial right now as the Government plans to open the border to tourists. There’s been a significant drop in vaccination rates for our Māori and Pasifika babies and toddlers.
“Support is needed to help whānau to get their kids fully immunised before winter. Measles and whooping cough hits our young ones much harder; we have to pull every lever possible to make sure our children are protected against another epidemic.”