Pacific Responsiveness Strategy - one year on
In 2017, we embarked on a journey to improve the health of Pacific peoples living in New Zealand, with the launch of our Pacific Responsiveness Strategy.
One year on, we’ve built strong relationships throughout New Zealand’s Pacific communities and the wider health sector, as a foundation for the important work that lies ahead.
“This approach reflects our strategy, symbolised by the growth of a coconut tree – it’s important to start by planting the seed and making the soil fertile for growth,” says Fonomaaitu-Tuvalu Fuimaono, Pacific Adviser, PHARMAC.
“In this first stage of our work we have begun engaging with a wide range of people from Pacific pharmacists to non-Pacific clinicians and PHARMAC’s own staff, as well as reaching out directly to mums, dads and kids from Pacific families.”
Supporting the Pacific Pharmacists’ Association
Over 2018, we’ve supported the formation of New Zealand’s first Pacific Pharmacists’ Association.
“Pacific pharmacists have a crucial role to play in improving the health of Pacific people in New Zealand. They’re at the frontline, working with communities every day to help them get the most out of their medicines,” says Fonomaaitu-Tuvalu.
“We want to help Pacific pharmacists in this role so that Pacific peoples better understand the medicines they take, and how to use them effectively. It was a privilege to help support the development of the Pacific Pharmacists Association.”
The association began as a Facebook page(external link) set up by Wellington pharmacist Kasey Brown. With seed funding and other support from PHARMAC, the association is now a legal entity, focused on helping Pacific pharmacists provide the best service, improve relationships with the community and find other ways to positively influence the health of Pacific peoples.
“We look forward to working closely with the association and are keen for them to become trusted advisors, informing us on how to engage better with Pacific communities and supporting us to implement initiatives such as community outreach programmes,” says Fonomaaitu-Tuvalu.
In March this year, we teamed up with the Ministry of Health to attend Auckland’s iconic Pasifika Festival.
Supported by a team of doctors, nurses and pharmacists, we talked to thousands of people about the responsible use of medicines and answered their health-related questions.
“Events such as the Pasifika Festival are an invaluable opportunity to engage directly with members of the Pacific community in an informal, face-to-face setting,” says Fonomaaitu-Tuvalu.
“We envisage this being the first of many events that PHARMAC will be represented at, making us more visible and accessible in the community, and helping build understanding of our role and provide robust health advice.”
Seminar for clinicians
One of PHARMAC’s important roles is promoting the responsible use of medicines and providing educational opportunities for clinicians is one of the ways we do this.
This year, we held our first-ever Pacific health seminar, focused on issues related to diabetes and child obesity.
“The seminar was designed to engage non-Pacific clinicians to better support their Pacific patients,” says Fonomaaitu-Tuvalu.
It was delivered by expert Pacific clinicians and researchers including Dr Debbie Ryan, principal of Pacific Perspectives, a health and education consultancy focused on improving outcomes for Pacific communities.
Strengthening internal capabilities
To better serve Pacific peoples, we recognise that we need to deepen our own awareness and understanding of Pacific cultures.
“Our Pacific Responsiveness Strategy therefore includes a focus on building the capabilities of our staff,” says Fonomaaitu-Tuvalu.
This year, we began doing this through initiatives such as Pacific cultural competency courses and celebrating events such as Pacific language weeks.
“We’re looking forward to the next phase of the strategy, which is about testing ways to improve health outcomes for Pacific peoples,” says Fonomaaitu-Tuvalu
In the meantime, we’ll keep building relationships because as the Samoan proverb E lē fālālā fua le la’au says, “the leaves of the coconut tree don’t just move on their own.” In other words, we need to work together to effect growth and change.
Last updated: 13 December 2018