19 Apr 2012

More Maori health workers needed, assessment finds

7:01 pm on 19 April 2012

The first in-depth assessment of the health needs of Maori in Taranaki has highlighted the need for more Maori health workers.

The Whanau Ora health-needs assessment has taken six months to complete and has just been presented to the Taranaki District Health Board.

Co-author Dr Mihi Ratima says the report identifies health inequalities for Maori.

She says just 7% of health workers in Taranaki are Maori, whereas Maori make up 15% of the population.

Dr Ratima says encouraging more Maori into health work will take some time.

She says it needs to start in schools because at the moment they aren't doing enough to encourage Maori students into subjects like biology and chemistry.

Dr Ratima says, once that happens, young people can then have the option of moving onto tertiary studies in the health field.

She says more work needs to be done in most health areas in Taranaki, including diabetes and heart disease, and in health promotion and preventative programmes for drugs, alcohol and smoking.