Saturday, November 27

Funding Brings A Military Grade Whanganui Covid Response

A military-style crisis response will be established with millions of dollars of new funding for the Maori Covid-19 vaccination effort in and around Whanganui.

Vaccination center sign

Vaccination center sign
Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

The government announced $ 23.5 million in direct funding from ministers for Iwi and Maori healthcare providers on Monday, after many DHBs were found to be missing.

It includes $ 2.8 million for iwi in the southern districts of Taranaki, Rangitīkei and Ruapehu, and another $ 1.3 million for iwi in Taranaki.

Maori Crown Minister Kelvin Davis said local solutions were the way to reach Maori.

“There is an army of volunteers, Iwi and Maori organizations that are already hard at work on this mahi and with the funding provided, their efforts will be strengthened.”

Ngā Rauru straddles the Taranaki and Whanganui border, and Te Kāhui or Rauru director Victor Goldsmith said the former military personnel would coordinate the response for more than a dozen Whanganui tribes.

“We call it crisis management because it is like a battle in wartime. You need to collect and share data and intelligence, which leads to a good use of resources. That is why we have people who are ex-military working for us.”

Goldsmith said the Whanganui DHB data will be part of a GIS (Geographic Information System) database to capture more information in the field, allowing for better decision making.

“With our crisis management tool working with ex-military men, I think it will be a game changer for us.”

Whanganui’s money also goes to more mobile vaccination events and efforts to reduce misinformation.

Goldsmith said the team urgently needed to purchase caravans and trailers, and hire nurses, vaccinators, administrators and planners.

He expected the teams to hit the streets within a fortnight.

“We need to get into the communities and educate our people. It’s not just a question of going in and giving them the vaccine, we need … to send the right people into the community so that our people know who they are.”

Goldsmith said the data collection also offered an opportunity to repair the underfunding of Maori health by correcting DHB’s incomplete records.

“We need to go back to Crown and say: we told you your model was wrong, and now we’ve captured the data you need to change your model – there weren’t three people in that household, there were ten.”

The Taranaki funding will pay for more trained vaccinators, nurses and kaiārahi in a regional effort coordinated by Te Aranga, the Covid response arm of the eight Taranaki iwi.

South Taranaki iwi Ngāti Ruanui, which already has 12 newly trained vaccinators working from motorhomes, was invited to apply for their “vax ‘n’ yacks” program, but received no funding in this first round.

More spending is scheduled to be announced later this week and Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer of Ngāti Ruanui is optimistic about success.

He said that different areas already had a variety of responses at work.

“It’s really important that the government doesn’t wrap everyone in a one-stop-shop approach: they need to hear what each group mobilizing in their own takiwā (area) is doing and support that.”

Ngarewa-Packer said it was a shame that funding had come so late, but Ngāti Ruanui would seek to expand his vaccination effort.

He also said the experience could bring about long-term change.

“It is a model that we can use for other immunizations. It is a robust model and it will probably be the new standard for a lot of other things, not just for Covid but for our other health needs.”

The money is the first expenditure of the Ministerial Oversight Group of Kelvin Davis, Willie Jackson and Peeni Henare, who have $ 60 million to increase vaccines for Maori and another $ 60 million for Maori communities to prepare for the spread. of the delta variant. of Covid-19.

Visiting Taranaki this week, Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare said the funds came directly from ministers in part to shake up red tape in some DHBs.

He said that some applicants had proposed to partner with DHB.

“Health providers recognize that they do not have the infrastructure or the workforce, because they are tired, they have been vaccinating since March, and to obtain the volume they need more workforce and that can only come from the DHBs.”

Henare said not all of the proposals were approved, with requests worth $ 7 million for music concerts to rally support for the vaccination.

“That’s fine, I’m ready for a gig like anyone else, and yes, it is a good way to attract people, but we must see that this money goes directly to those we should target and that vaccination fees will be raised. “.

Potential concert promoters were asked to join with Maori vendors and DHB to make sure the events pushed vaccines.

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