Reducing inequalities

Health inequalities are avoidable, unnecessary and unjust differences in the health of different groups of people. Reducing inequalities in cancer treatment is integral to the work of the Southern Cancer Network. The Network has a responsibility to assist the Crown in meeting its obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi and policies and documents such as the New Zealand Health and Disability Act 2000 (NZHD Act) guide this work.This Act requires that the SCN acts to reduce health disparities by improving health outcomes for iwi/Māori in Te Waipounamu. To do this, the SCN has processes that enable Māori to participate in and contribute towards strategies for Māori health improvement. This recognises and respects the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.The provision of this service is guided by He Korowai Oranga: 2002 Māori Health Strategy. The  Cancer Control Strategy and Action Plan 2005 - 2010  refers specifically to initiatives for Māori health in objectives 95 to 102.  Health inequalities can be reduced by using tools that enable the assessment of policies, programmes and services in use. Through examining these interventions, decisions can be made about how to make them more effective. The Health Equity Assessment Tool (HEAT) is one tool that aims to promote equity in health in New Zealand. The Whānua Ora Health Impact Assessment is another tool that can be used to support Māori health and wellbeing by looking at the effects of policy on whānau.

The Te Waipounamu Māori Leadership Group has been established to provide tikanga and kaupapa Māori advice and guidance to the activities of the Southern Cancer Network, and ensures that the reduction of inequalities remains a focus in all activities.

There are a number of models of health and wellbeing that provide a kaupapa Māori perspective that can be utilised across the continuum of cancer care.

Te Whare Tapa Whā (Mason Durie
The four cornerstones (or sides) of Māori health are whānau (family health), tinana (physical health), hinengaro (mental health) and wairua (spiritual health).

Te Wheke (Rose Pere)
Another model of Māori health is based on Te Wheke, the octopus and the eight tentacles that collectively contribute to waiora or total wellbeing."

Te Pae Mahutonga (Mason Durie)
Te Pae Mahutonga (Southern Cross Star Constellation) brings together elements of modern health promotion.


A Review of the Process and Accuracy of Ethnicity Data Collection at the Two South Island Cancer Centres

This project was developed to establish whether anecdotal concern around ethnicity data collection at the two public cancer centres in the South Island (Dunedin and Christchurch) was justifiable. As well as reviewing the accuracy of the ethnicity data collected, the views of staff involved in ethnicity data collection were collated, regarding the process and barriers to it.

In this project the level of agreement between the self-identified ethnicity of patients that was collected at the two public cancer centres showed a good level of concordance with the ethnicity data held in the National Health Index database and the National Minimum Data Set.

Responses to a staff survey highlighted the low level of formal training received by staff in relation to the 2004 Ethnicity Data Protocols. It was concluded that this low level of formal training probably underpinned the various other issues identified by the survey of staff, and that provision of more structured training could resolve the other issues.