“Cheaper” for kids to die

A week ago Stuff reported on a piece of horrifying research from Auckland University:

This preliminary study suggests that health sector spending is skewed towards non-Māori children despite evidence of greater Māori need.

Our study shows that in addition to being preventable, unnecessary and a breach of child rights, inequities in child health result in significant costs to our society.

So our health sector spends loads more dosh on non-Māorikids than Māori, and the disparity is worse if we compare Māori with Pakeha, according to the finer print.  Specifically, the research breaks down to:

  • 15,376 excess avoidable hospital admissions for Māori children during 2003 to 2007;
  • 36% of hospitalisations classified as ‘potentially avoidable’;
  • Pharmaceutical claims for non-Māori children were 15 % higher, with non-Māori laboratory claims 55% higher than Māori;
  • ACC claims for Māori children 32% lower than non-Māori, and median cost lower;
  • Specialist outpatient visits by Māori children 86% lower than those of non-Māori children.

This all sits of course, in the wider context of one third of Māori children living in poverty.  When going to the doctor or paying for medicine means you won’t be able to pay your bills or buy enough food, you wait as long as you can.  But it’s not all about class, as Tariana Turia says, it’s also about institutional racism:

Every day I hear examples of how our people are made to feel stink, or embarrassed, angry, or forgotten through various experiences they have had with the doctor, or with schools or through a wide and varying range of basic services of necessity.

Feeling stink is a great way of describing how it feels to not be the “norm” when it comes to engaging with an institution.  Or there’s looking at how we measure up to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples:

Sometimes institutional racism is about what we imagine too though, the way we can frame a situation in our thoughts.  I don’t know about other white people, but I continually find myself wrestling with internalised white dominant ideas, ways of thinking that position Pakeha ways of doing things as normal, natural and right.

So maybe small wonder this piece of research – which adds yet more evidence to the pile labelled “Crap Colonisation Indicators” – was introduced by Stuff in this way:

Economists have proven it’s cheaper to let Maori children die than spend money to provide equitable health treatment.

It’s hard to imagine why you would begin an article about research showing one group is disadvantaged by talking about it being cheaper for the disadvantaged group to die.  It’s hard to imagine that sentence not causing an uproar if we were talking about white people.  Yet the article caused barely a ripple.  For me, that’s a disturbing indicator of why Aotearoa can allow such appalling institutional racism in our health system in the first place.

* The title of this blog is how it pops up in Stuff, but the title of the article is different.  I don’t know if that means Stuff changed the headline after posting?  That is what it would mean in a blog link.

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