Great reportage from Virginia McMillian, Journalist from NZ Doctor magazine:
Virginia McMillan email@example.com Tuesday 15 August 2017, 3:31PM
Patients’ experiences living on low pay and in cold, overcrowded houses are too common, Hutt Union Community Health Service chair and Living Wage New Zealand committee member Muriel Tunoho says.
Both the organisations that Ms Tunoho serves have endorsed a Health Charter (see illustration) that proposes liveable incomes and homes as rights for all. The charter was today handed over to Labour MP Grant Robertson outside Parliament.
The charter, developed by the United Community Action Network, received the support of Mr Robertson and New Zealand First’s acting health spokesperson Ria Bond.
UCAN sees the charter as a founding document for health. Coordinator Debbie Leyland told the small gathering in the Parliament grounds it was a challenge by which to hold to account all MPs and political parties.
Ms Leyland says the typical waits of two months for mental healthcare (“if you’re lucky”) are not acceptable, and nor are the country’s high rates of suicide, homelessness and mental illness.
One tangible way to address poverty
Ms Tunoho says the living wage is one tangible way to address poverty. The point was underscored by Paul Barber, NZ Council of Christian Social Services’ policy advisor, who said benefits were too low and beneficiaries’ health suffered the most.
“One of the best health treatments is to lift benefits and lift incomes for the lowest-income people. It’s the simplest treatment and it can be administered tomorrow if we want to,” Mr Barber said.
Instead, the Government was arrogantly paying down debt “with the anguish of the poor”.
Thirty-seven organisations belong to the Equality Network, which has endorsed the UCAN charter, he said.
More funded visits for children – NZ First
Ms Bond said her party wants to lift the funding for under-13s care to cover three visits a year, and to raise the age at least to 15.
Mr Robertson said equitable access to healthcare was a mark of a decent society.
Speaking for the Tick for Kids and the Child Poverty Action Group, Lisa Woods called on all political parties to ensure New Zealanders have the resources they need to thrive.
Child Poverty Action is a signatory to the charter, as are the Public Health Association, the public health department of the University of Otago, Wellington, the three Wellington union health clinics and the NZ Nurses Organisation, among others.
NZNO president Grant Brookes says the organisation welcomes the charter, “a refresh of the original primary healthcare vision”, and its focus on population health and eliminating disparities.
United Community Action Network (UCAN) press release
For immediate release
Monday 14 August at 7am
Health charter to be delivered to parliament
The United Community Action Network (UCAN) will deliver it’s health charter to parliament tomorrow, Tuesday 14 August at 1230pm on parliament grounds.
The College of Nurses, low-cost health providers, The Equality and Living Wage Networks and the Public Health Association Wellington branch are some of the groups who have signed the charter.
The charter calls for the right to: health care, a living income, a safe and healthy home, the ability to take party in society, a safe environment and an education.
UCAN is a national grassroots health rights organisation based in Wellington.
The group’s spokesperson, Debbie Leyland, says the growing gap between rich and poor sits next to health under funding as the country’s biggest health concerns.
“More and more people are being denied health care because they can’t afford it,” she says. “Poor housing, homelessness and low wages and benefits are as big a health problem as our growing waiting lists and number of people who need surgery but can’t get on a list.”
New Zealand has enough wealth to provide for all citizens but wealth is “poorly distributed”, she says.
“The provision of basic rights for all citizens just isn’t a priority.”
Leyland is calling on all political parties to support the charter.
Labour party finance spokesperson, Grant Robertson, Green Party social development spokesperson Jan Logie will speak at the presentation alongside representatives from Child Poverty Action Group, The Equality Network and The Living Wage Network.
It is essential that the issue of reducing inequality remains forefront with an election breathing down our necks. Any inaction on concrete and committed longterm planning to reduce inequalities will continue to have long-reaching impacts for those who live in the harshest of conditions in Aotearoa.
It is essential to keep the pressure up.
Image: Screenshot of Radio NZ page
Help make Health Funding an Election issue
Join the greatest health minds and activists to make health funding a key election issue.
YesWeCare.nz and United Community Action Network [UCAN] invite you to Health Funding Crisis Forums on Saturday 1st July from 10 am – 3.30 pm.
Our main forum will be held in Christchurch. It will be streamed online to events in Auckland, Wellington, any self-hosted events and online for those who can’t attend an event or where there isn’t one yet. (Want to host an event in your town?)
The pre-election budget is out and the smoke and mirrors around health funding has cleared.
Without action, more Kiwis are going to miss out on the mental and physical health care they need, when they need it.
That’s where you come in.
We’ve invited the most active community groups, workplace and health activists to work on a grassroots election plan.
Campaigning has made mental health a key election issue. We need to keep the pressure up and make physical health funding a key election issue as well.
At the forum, you’ll:
- Hear about the latest research on unmet need and health underfunding,
- How campaigning made mental health a key election issue, and
- Learn how to get your story in the media, or
- Discover how our new health and safety laws can fix unsafe workloads.
We’ll provide lunch. You’ll provide the energy.
For more information visit: http://yeswecare.nz/forums
What are your top three election priorities?
At the conference, we’ll be announcing three health pledges we want all parties, candidates and politicians to commit to in this election. We’re crowd-sourcing the asks and need your help to develop them.
If you or your organisation will struggle with travel costs, please let YesWeCare.nz know. They have a small fund to help.
We look forward to seeing you there.
Nāku noa, nā.
YesWeCare.nz Campaign Coordinator
027 526 8704
Pat Bolster & Debbie Leyland
On behalf of UCAN
United Community Action Network
Please see the press release from Child Poverty Action Group(CPAG) who have published this endorsement of the UCAN Health Charter. We thank CPAG for their ongoing commitment and advocacy to improving the health and wellbeing of children, and the families they live within, in Aotearoa.
Support for UCAN NZ Health Charter
Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) supports and endorses the Health Charter by the United Communities Action Network New Zealand (UCAN) that says “everyone deserves the right to health”.
UCAN, an organisation formed four years ago, believes that the right to health is, “being denied to many in Aotearoa-New Zealand, through poor access to health services, an unfair economic and education system that strongly favours the wealthy over the poor.”
CPAG agrees that much of the poor health among children in New Zealand is attributable to “inadequate and unhealthy housing, poor living environments that alienate vulnerable sections of the community.”
The link between poverty and poor mental and physical health among children, whose opportunities to thrive are compromised, is very real. Professor Innes Asher, Health Spokesperson for CPAG says that “poverty and unhealthy housing and inadequate basic health care are the drivers behind many of the thousands of children admitted to hospital each year with preventable diseases.
“Comprehensive effective policies are needed to change this grim situation which results in large numbers of children, many of whom are babies, becoming very sick and who often suffer lifelong damage.”
CPAG says that UCAN promoting the right to healthcare that is not met with a cost barrier is a commendable effort, and aligns with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which New Zealand ratified 24 years ago.
CPAG notes with great concern that over half a million New Zealanders cannot afford to see their GPs. We are asking that the Government extends the zero fees scheme for free access to General Practice to include all children up to their 18th birthdays.
This would be one of the measures needed toward a goal of halving the number of hospital admissions for preventable illness among children – which is currently around 40,000 annually.
The UCAN Health Charter (2016) also supports everyone having the right to affordable, safe and healthy housing.
CPAG hopes that there will be a greater commitment by the New Zealand Government to ensuring that every family has access to an affordable, healthy home. Instituting a rental Warrant of Fitness to ensure that a minimum standard is met and that homes are made to be safe, dry, and insulated would be a step toward ensuring better health for all children of low-income families.
Follow this link to download a pdf version of the UCAN Health Charter. Ends