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Maori Council Welcomes PHARMAC Review: Every New Zealander Should Have A Fighting Chance At Life

The New Zealand Maori Council welcomes the review announced by the Prime Minister into PHARMAC. Executive Director, Matthew Tukaki, has called for such a review over the course of the last two years with a particular emphasis on the ways and means drugs are funded on schedule. Tukaki has been a significant proponent to ensure that PHARMAC also has a strong focus on Maori health outcomes in its health assessments:

“The reality has been that Maori health disparities are vast and often rely on drug treatments that can be unaffordable and therefore unobtainable. You will all remember the work we did to support the Mulholland’s on bringing about the Maori Affairs Select Committee Inquiry into Cancer Disparities amongst Maori and that really highlighted that the scheduling process meant that our people were just not getting access to life saving and affordable medications.” Tukaki said.

“The problem we have is that Maori life expectancy is much lower than non-Maori and often the sorts of illness we are diagnosed with come towards the mid to tail end of the disease. Therefore, the agency responsible for scheduling needs to be conscious of that unique underpinning of primary health and why it needs to be reflected in its schedule.” Tukaki said.

“Of course, I do believe this is not just about throwing more money at an ever-increasing challenge – the fact is that advancement in medical technical and pharmaceuticals is rapid, much more so than it would have been fifty years ago, so we need to strike the right balance between the pace advancement in life saving and prolonging medications with the demands of people.” Tukaki said.

“The Minister of Health is right and so is the Prime Minister – to address the issues that confront us we need to take a look at the process itself and where improvements can be made lets be bold and brave in getting the job done. PHARMAC have an extraordinary difficult job to do and have a range of views, opinions and interests that they need to take into account but my concern will always be for the health and well being of our people and the fact that every New Zealander should have a fighting chance at life – that fighting chance should not be if they can afford the medications or not.” Tukaki said

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