Wednesday, March 03, 2004

If this isn't need, then I don't know what is

The latest New Zealand Census-Mortality Study shows that Maori die younger than pakeha, even after controlling for socioeconomic status. Using high-income pakeha as the baseline,

[i]t found death rates among low-income Europeans were 1.6 times higher, high-income Maori were 2.25 times higher, and low-income Maori were 3.5 times higher.
There's further data in the 2003 study, which shows that while pakeha death rates and life-expectencies have improved steadily over the last twenty years, Maori death-rates have not. This is in contrast to the dramatic improvements in Maori life-expectency during the 50's, 60's and 70's (the 2003 study is not controlled for socioeconomic status, and therefore draws the obvious conclusion that a key way of reducing health inequalities is reducing social ones. The 2004 study suggests that this won't be as effective as we would like).

This is need, and it is real. And it will not, as Brash suggests, be solved simply by funding ethnically-blind programs for specific diseases alone. What it requires is:

  • research funding to find out why this occurs
  • racially-targetted prevention programs for common and identified causes (the current anti-smoking program is a good example)
  • increased general funding to the extent that specific causes cannot be identified or targetted

By ruling out any form of "race-based" or targetted funding, Brash is condeming Maori to die an early death. This is not "equality" - it is neglect, pure and simple.