The Green Party has released a collection of stories showing the dire need for free dental care in Aotearoa.
“These submissions tell us that whānau are having to loan money or forgo crucial dental treatment entirely, due to cost. For some, it's a choice between food on the table or a trip to the dentist," says the Green Party Māori Development, and Pacific Peoples, spokesperson, Teanau Tuiono.
“These stories reinforce that for decades Māori and Pasifika have not been able to get the dental care they need, with nearly 50% of Māori not going to the dentist because of cost. The Green Party will invest $200 million in kaupapa Māori dental services so whānau can be supported to live happy, healthy lives.
“The Green Party knows that oral care is a basic necessity, our plan will ensure that Māori, Pasifika and rural communities can look after their teeth, without having to travel long distances or pay through the roof. We will do this by increasing the number of portable clinics, including on marae and in community hubs.
“We will also increase funding to Te Aka Whai Ora, the Māori Health Authority, and fund ‘by Māori-for-Māori’ community and whānau oral health services to address ongoing inequities Māori face in the dental sector.
“When whānau visit the dentist, it is important they feel safe and comfortable accessing the services they are entitled to. That is why the Green Party will support Māori and Pasifika to pursue careers in dentistry by introducing scholarships and ensuring students are supported and resourced to complete their studies, so our dentistry workforce can reflect our diverse communities.
“We know that the quality of our oral health impacts self esteem, job opportunities and the overall quality of our lives. Ko tēnei te wā, the time is now to address the inaction by successive governments and make dental care accessible for every whānau,” says Teanau Tuiono.