National | Dr Rawiri Jansen

Māori in high-risk category to keep getting help for long-Covid recovery

From today follow-up appointments for people who have had to deal with a Covid illness or after hospitalisation due to Covid will be a cost for patients to pick up unless they’re in a higher-risk category.

That category includes Māori, those who are disabled and the elderly, for whom funded treatment will continue.

Yet some health authorities are criticising this shift, with Covid issues no longer a health priority.

Te Aka Whai Ora (Māori Health Authority) chief medical officer Dr Rawiri McKree Jansen (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Hinerangi) weighed in on the issue and on the health sector’s preparations for Cyclone Gabrielle.

As power outages are being experienced across the North Island, most health workplaces have had to kick in their generators. But Jansen says he expects those with outages to continue for the next few days.

'Make that switch'

On the Covid illness issue, funding has been allocated to keep supporting those in the high-risk category, who will be given care packages and more.

“If you’re not in that high-risk group, you’re probably going to be ok. We looked at all of the data and the science, made sure that we’ve got those people at risk covered.

“There’s no point covering those at low risk, to provide funding for that extensive care.”

With the time that the health sector has focused on Covid in the last few years, Jansen is worried that focus means other health issues, like measles, will get worse.

“I think it’s really urgent that we free up that time from our primary care team to get back to that kind of work,” he says. “Get the child immunisation stuff done, make sure we’re looking after people with diabetes, respiratory illnesses.

“Now is a really good time for us to make that switch.”

Public Interest Journalism