Thousands of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei hapū members are set to benefit from a new health care initiative designed to improve their access to prescription medication.
According to Ministry of Health data, Māori have rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stroke around twice that of non-Māori; conditions which experts say can be addressed through better adherence to prescription medication .
Recent research also shows Māori are less likely to fill a prescription for medicine, and more likely to forget to take their medication than non-Māori, which can contribute to poor health outcomes.
Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei provide health insurance to over 3,000 of its members, which will now include having their prescription medicines delivered to their door, free of the delivery charge - helping remove some of the barriers which prevent them from accessing their medicine.
In addition to the free delivery of their prescription medicines, a team of pharmacists will help monitor the patient’s medicine adherence and then phone to offer professional care and advice if they identify any issues that the patient might be having in taking their medicines correctly.
Prescriptions will be written by the prescribing GP or nurse and sent directly to the pharmacy for dispensing.
Ngāti Whātua Project manager Anahera Rawiri says the plan is part of a larger programme aimed at improving health outcomes for the hapū.
“We want our people to be well and stay well, and empower our whānau to take control of their health and wellbeing,”
“Data from the initiative will be combined with population health data allowing us to analyse trends and develop preventative programmes,” she says.
Pharmacist Din Redzepagic from Zoom Pharmacy, whose company will manage dispensing and delivery of the medication and monitor the patient’s adherence to their prescription, says their research shows that Māori are often less likely to follow their doctor’s advice - which may lead to poor health outcomes.
“Around four in ten (43%) Māori say they received a prescription from a doctor which they didn’t have filled at a chemist - a rate higher than the rest of the population (33%).
“Among the most common reasons for not having the script filled was that they wanted to save the cost (23%) or that it was just too inconvenient to get there (10%).
“In addition, a further three quarters (73%) of Māori surveyed said they had forgotten to take their prescription medication at some stage - a rate noticeably higher than non-Māori (58%),” he says.
Redzepagic says they anticipate the new service model will provide long term health benefits for Māori and plan to expand the programme to include other parts of the community where access to medication is a barrier to health outcomes.
He says the company will also offer free delivery until December; which may be extended pending a review of how well it improves patient access to medicine.
The people of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei are a hāpu of the Ngāti Whātua iwi in Auckland.