Te wero tonu—the challenge continues: Māori access to medicines 2006/07–2012/13 update

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New Zealand Medical Journal


AIM: Analysis of dispensings of prescription medicines in New Zealand in 2006/07 reported large inequities between Māori and non-Māori. This present study has now updated the earlier work by describing variations in disease burden-adjusted medicines access by ethnicity in 2012/13, and changes over time. METHOD: The update has linked prescription medicine data with burden of disease estimates by ethnicity for 2012/13 and comparing with 2006/07. This has re-examined the shortfall in prescriptions for Māori vs non-Māori adjusting for age, population and burden of disease (ie, health loss, in disability-adjusted life years (DALYs)). RESULTS: Aft er adjusting for age, population and burden of disease, large inequalities still existed for Māori compared with non-Māori, with generally no improvement over the six years. In 2012/13, Māori had 41% lower dispensings overall than non-Māori; this was nominally worse compared with the 37% relative gap in 2006/07, but the trend was not statistically significant. Many complexities and limitations hamper valid interpretation, but large inequities in access and persistence, across many therapeutic groups, remain. The full University of Auckland report details these inequities. CONCLUSION: Large inequities in medicines access for Māori continue. Inequities in access are unacceptable, their causes likely complex and entrenched; we believe they need deeper understanding of systems and barriers, pragmatic ways to monitor outcomes, and an all-of-sector approach and beyond. PHARMAC has committed to strategic action to eliminate inequities in access to medicines by 2025, recognising it needs partners to drive the necessary change. Kei a tātou tonu katoa te wero kia mahikaha, kia mahi tino mōhio, me te mahitahi (The challenge continues for us to work harder, work smarter, and work together); everyone in the health sector has a role.

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