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PSNZ raises concerns over Government review of MAPAS

Te Kāhui Mātai Arotamariki o Aotearoa – The Paediatric Society of New Zealand (PSNZ) expresses concern over the Government’s decision to review the Māori and Pacific Admission Scheme (MAPAS). Established in 1972, the scheme has been instrumental in addressing the underrepresentation of Māori and Pacific individuals in the healthcare sector and enhancing health outcomes for these communities. PSNZ, as an organisation committed to reducing health inequities in Aotearoa, believes that any governmental move that does not support increasing the Māori and Pacific health workforce should be rejected.

PSNZ is uniquely positioned to highlight the talent this programme produces, as our organisation’s President and other valuable members have been supported by the scheme.

PSNZ President Owen Sinclair (Te Rarawa), a MAPAS alumnus, highlights the critical importance the programme had on his medical journey. “The support I received from MAPAS was not just beneficial but crucial to my success in the medical field. It’s a programme that extends beyond providing education; it offers wrap-around support in culturally responsive ways. It’s about representation, support, and ensuring our health workforce mirrors the diversity of our communities,” he states.

Dr Simone Watkins, a Samoan paediatric doctor and PSNZ member completing a PhD focused on advancing health equity, also went through the MAPAS programme. She says, “MAPAS is more than a medical admission scheme; it stands to equitably offer opportunities to students from Māori and Pasifika backgrounds and support them to reach their full potential. In this way, we build a workforce fit for purpose, one which meets the diverse cultural needs represented in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

“As someone who has personally lived through my family and Māori and Pasifika patients facing unfair health outcomes, I believe in the immense value MAPAS adds in contesting for equitable healthcare and health outcomes for our peoples,” states Dr Watkins.

PSNZ is concerned about the potential implications of the Government review of MAPAS, agreed upon in the coalition between National and Act, and questions if it’s an initial step to reduce funding or even move towards disestablishment.

“The benefits of MAPAS extend far beyond increasing the number of Māori and Pacific doctors. It empowers us with an advocacy and equity lens essential for addressing the unique health needs of our communities.” Dr. Watkins explains.

PSNZ urges the Government to uphold its commitment to health equity by supporting and enhancing programmes like MAPAS, which aim for a health workforce that represents the communities they serve and is better equipped to address the myriad reasons that Aotearoa still has disparate health outcomes.

“We stand firm in our understanding that programmes like MAPAS are integral to creating a health workforce reflective of our nation’s diversity. We call upon the Government to fully consider the positive impacts of MAPAS in terms of building workforce capacity and improving health outcomes, and to prioritise not only the continuation but expansion of such programmes,” concludes Dr Owen Sinclair.

 

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