We were delighted to join the Mana Taurite | Equity in Health conference recently to learn more about what equity in health looks like for Alzheimers NZ.
The event was held in Auckland on 4 and 5 December and was centred on the need for an equity-based focus within Aotearoa New Zealand’s health system.
The kaupapa for this year was on what’s working in the implementation of equity and was an opportunity showcase the evidence base for how to improve outcomes.
Alzheimers NZ Dementia Friendly Advisor Dr Meg Spriggs (pictured above) joined clinicians, researchers and public health professionals for the event.
There was an amazing range of speakers covering topics from population health and medicine access to men’s mental health, and the power of lived experience to Critical Te Tiriti Analysis (CTA).
Two presenters focused specifically on services for kaumātua and seniors.
Meg says health equity can’t be achieved if we don’t look at the other aspects of wellbeing – housing, food, education, employment and community.
“Too many New Zealanders have to choose been their health and putting food on the table. That is not health equity, and it is not good enough,” says Meg.
“An overarching theme was the heavy impact of loneliness and isolation, and that health involves connection – with self, others and the environment.
“Another theme was that serving a community means turning up where they are. It means looking for the tapestry that we can sew ourselves into. Everything must start with trust.”
Meg is leading Alzheimers NZ’s work toward a Dementia Friendly Aotearoa New Zealand – which means people living with dementia mate wareware can exercise their right to feel valued and safe, can contribute to and participate in their communities, and where they get the help and support they need.
Meg believes a Dementia Friendly Aotearoa New Zealand cannot be achieved without health equity.
“I left feeling positive that health equity is possible. It will take time, commitment and collaboration, but it is possible. We need to work as a team, we can’t do this alone. But we can do it.
“The bottom line is health equity isn’t measured, it’s experienced. Health equity matters.”