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Addressing disparities by growing the Pacific public health workforce

Le Va was recently invited to join a sector reference group contributing to the refresh of the Ministry of Health’s flagship public health plan Te Uru Kahikatea: the Public Health workforce Development Plan (TUK). The plan provides a national strategic approach to public health workforce development from 2007 to 2016. 

Public health is defined in the TUK as the ‘science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organised efforts of others’.  

While the strategy is approaching its 10th year of implementation, Le Va’s involvement has been since 2013 through the development of the Taeao o Tautai Pacific Public Health Workforce Development Implementation Plan. This plan seeks to deliver on the Pacific objective of TUK: strengthening the Pacific public health workforce and the capability of the non-Pacific workforce to improve Pacific health and reduce inequalities. 

Results since Le Va’s involvement from 2013 are as follows:

1.    Since 2013/14, approximately 19% of 285 students undertaking the Certificate of Public Health programme through Massey University were Pasifika
    a. more than half of all students are of Māori and Pasifika ethnicity.

2.    Since 2013/14, approximately 22% of those that had completed the Le Tautua emerging leaders programme were from the public health sector (11 of 51 participants)
   a. 82% saw themselves taking on greater responsibilities and/or leadership positions within the next five years of their career.

3.    Since 2013/14, approximately 1,500 participants have completed Le Va’s Engaging Pasifika cultural competency programme, with approximately 280 public health workers completing the programme 
   a. approximately 96% rated the workshop as excellent, reporting increased knowledge, awareness and confidence working with Pasifika clients, families, and communities. 

4.    Activities in additional public health courses (Certificate in Health Promotion, University of Otago), public health networks and associations (Public Health Association, Health Promotion Forum, Moana Ola Pasifika Public Health Network) and mainstream leadership programmes (Public Health Leadership programme) also show strengthened Pacific public health workforce and growing awareness of non-Pacific workforces of Pacific public health issues. 

Further analysis will be tabled and discussed in the next few months, and we look forward to working with the sector and the Ministry of Health to continue to progress Pasifika public health workforce development.  

About the author •
Abba Fidow is Le Va’s Senior Manager, Quality tasked with ensuring quality planning and delivery of projects, programmes and engagements. He also has 15 years of experience working in policy and strategy roles across central and local government.