Māori vaccine rollout saw 'lack of strong leadership' by some DHBs - Henare

Anna Whyte
Source: 1News

There was "a lack of strong leadership" and a "problematic" funding distribution from some District Health Boards (DHBs) in the roll out of the vaccine for Māori, Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare said on Tuesday. 

Peeni Henare.

Henare was asked to elaborate on challenges he saw in the vaccine roll out after visiting vaccine providers around the lower section of the North Island. 

"Some challenges are around the funding distribution and the speed at which they've been put out into those community providers and those Māori health providers.

"I've also noticed a lack of strong leadership amongst the community including the DHB in respect for what is required for the vaccine roll out," Henare said. 

"In Taranaki, we heard from Māori health providers and iwi they were dissatisfied with the job the DHB were doing.

"We met with the DHB and can confirm 16 hapū and DHB are working together."

He said there was a funding allocation earlier in the year which side-stepped DHBs and went directly to Māori health providers for the vaccine rollout. 

"We did put the second lot of funding through DHBs and that has proven problematic."

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said overall he was very happy with the DHBs' role in the rollout, adding "what we've seen here and the minister referred to this, is there is variability across DHBs". 

He said that was "very much related to the strength of the relationships and the speed with which they're able to provide resources out".

"What we're doing now is of course addressing where performance is not as good as it should be, we're going in to support DHBs and local providers."

So far, 66 per cent of Māori have had their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, while 45 per cent have had both doses. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was asked if Māori had been let down by DHBs in the vaccine rollout.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare.

"We've been talking for some time about the need to make sure we had good coverage of vaccinations across the board, $87m has gone roughly into specifically targeting a vaccination programme that is specifically reaching into Māori communities."

Green Party's Elizabeth Kerekere today called on the Government to listen to Māori health experts and to urgently increase funding support for Māori and Pasifika health providers "to keep their communities safe".

"Many Māori health providers have been left to fundraise so they have the resources to access whānau in rural communities, or for those who do not have a way of getting to a vaccination centre.

"A Te Tiriti-led response to Covid-19 needs to recognise the importance of Māori-led strategies for Māori."