It’s not often that one comes across Labour and National MPs standing united on a joint cause but when it comes to Pacific Health, our MPs all agree that we need to collaborate to achieve more. During a recent meeting, organised by Pacific Perspectives, a robust discussion was had with representatives from both of the major parties about the priority heath challenges facing Pacific communities in New Zealand. Political representation at the meeting included Sam Lotu-Iiga and Alfred Ngaro from National, and Su’a William Sio and Kris Fa’afoi from Labour.
During a presentation delivered by Director, Dr Debbie Ryan, a range of issues were discussed, including rheumatic fever, primary care and Pacific Workforce Development. Of these the MPs were particularly interested to learn more about evidence for health system performance and how community organisations can be supported to compete for health funding. Overall the tone of the meeting was constructive and collaborative, with all of the MPs agreeing that regardless of their political party’s policy positions, it was important for them all to stay in touch with key organisations in the sector to keep up-to-date with current research, policy analysis and developments. They also conveyed their desire to engage more closely with Pacific organisations working in the sector and their willingness to attend regular briefings on developments, as required.
On reflecting on the success of the meeting, Dr Debbie Ryan said that she was encouraged by the positive and collaborative approach adopted by all four MPs. Her hope is that other Pacific organisations working within the health sector will take up the offer to engage made by the MPs so that we can collectively maximize our Pacific representation in Parliament.