Great reportage from Virginia McMillian, Journalist from NZ Doctor magazine:
Virginia McMillan firstname.lastname@example.org 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.