Human Rights Commission Says Pae Ora Legislation Heralds A New Era For Public Health

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt has welcomed the Pae Ora legislation passed by the government last night, saying it will bring about a new era of public health after years of serious neglect.

The legislation creates Health NZ and a Māori Health Authority to replace the DHB system, and introduces a Public Health Agency within the Ministry of Health.

“These new bodies reflect a commitment to a health system that finally better reflects Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and which will deliver much better outcomes for all New Zealanders.

“We welcome a focus in the legislation on equity of outcomes and the requirement for a Health of Disabled People Strategy” says Hunt.

The Chief Commissioner has however expressed dissatisfaction that the legislation fails to mention or include the human rights to health care and health protection.

“Whenever a member of the public accesses a health care or public health service, the service is responsible for making decisions that respect, protect and fulfil that person’s human rights.

“For the legislation to omit this responsibility is an oversight and must be remedied by the government’s implementation of the new health system.

The Chief Commissioner says the rights to healthcare and health protection can serve as a guide as the government rolls out the service.

Te Kāhui Tika Tangata, the Human Rights Commission, is calling on the government to prioritise seven areas for short to medium term implementation. These include:

· An independent body to hold health entities accountable for public, population, and community health.

· A clear 5-year pathway to establishing governance and organisational structures that more strongly reflect Te Tiriti o Waitangi, prioritising Kāwanatanga and Tino Rangatiratanga in the governance of Health NZ, and Tino Rangatiratanga in the Māori Health Authority.

· That the resources allocated to the Māori Health Authority are Te Tiriti based, sustainable, equitable and sufficient to drive outcome improvement and enable system indigenisation.

· The Māori Health Authority should enable Tangata Whenua to develop a framework for the provision of kaupapa Māori health services, and to work alongside whānau to develop successful pae ora strategies and initiatives.

· The whole health system upholds its obligations to disabled people and does not defer responsibilities for the health of disabled people to the new Ministry of Disabled People.

· Promoting worker voices at every level of the health system to achieve a people-centered, accessible, equitable and cohesive workplace.

· Ensure that the ‘localities’ are genuinely grounded in communities as they are developed over the next two to three years.

“These steps are critical to the success of our new health system, and for the government to demonstrate that it is living up to its legally binding human rights commitments.

“I look forward to continuing to engage with the government as the implementation phase begins” says Mr Hunt.

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