Data released by the Health Quality & Safety Commission New Zealand shows there are differences in health care and treatment provided to people from different ethnic groups, socioeconomic status and district health boards. The data is from the Commission’s ‘Equity Explorer’, which provides information on how health and health care varies between groups of people in each DHB.
Waikato DHB public health physician Nina Scott says the Equity Explorer is an important and useful tool to guide work on health equity. *
“Equity Explorer helps us see where we need to focus our efforts,” she said. The latest Equity Explorer indicators are for diabetes, asthma and gout.
“We can definitely see room for improvement in some of the areas. It is reassuring to know we are already doing things in many of the areas we should be focussing on. At the same time, any avoidable inequities are unacceptable and we are committed to achieving equity for all our population groups.”
Children with asthma is a focus of the Child Health Action Group, a Midland health region initiative with strong involvement from Waikato DHB, and there are also programmes like Whare Ora which are prevention-focused and work on providing warmer, drier and therefore healthier home environments for children.
“We also want to do more staff training on how children and adults with asthma can be better supported to access high quality asthma care when they need it.”
“The Equity Explorer data indicates that our diabetes testing and treatment is fairly equitable, and that’s the result of a lot of work done within the DHB over the years. However with gout, it’s clear that Maori patients with gout are more likely the NZ European patients with gout to receive painkillers without accompanying treatment to prevent gout. We need to work with hospital and community based health professionals to find out why, and how we can address this inequity. Often the answer is a mix of health professional education, monitoring and feedback.”
Dr Scott said that Inequities data highlight areas that require investment. “Inequities can be viewed as ‘low hanging fruit’ for health gain because basic resources to achieve equity are already available – especially if equity is achieved in one area and not in another. Achieving health equity often just requires health service delivery quality improvements rather than expensive and time consuming initiatives such as developing new medications and treatments.”
* Health equity means there are no avoidable and unfair differences in health between different groups of people.