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'Kudos for top Waikato DHB Maori health researcher'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Dr Nina Scott, Waikato DHB Clinical Director of Māori Public Health, was presented with a major award at the recent Kudos Awards in Hamilton.

The annual event celebrates the best scientific minds and achievements across the Waikato region.

Dr Scott was crowned the winner of the Waikato DHB Medical Science Award and was also nominated for the University of Waikato Vision Mātauranga Science Award.

The accolade recognised Dr Scott as a leading expert in the use of kaupapa Māori methodologies for health research and her quest to tackle health inequities for Māori.

"The nature of my work is looking at how we can improve the health system so that we get better healthcare for Māori, and better health outcomes and reduced inequities.

"Health inequities are a really good measure of what our system could achieve it were performing better," she says.

Dr Scott says the health system is not designed to maximise Māori health gain or for equity, with access to care often an issue.

Her latest piece of work is the Harti Hauora Tamariki Study which was designed using the He Pikanga Waiora Framework, which is a co-design process developed by Dr Scott with the University of Waikato.

The electronic screening tool is a holistic health needs assessment for whānau delivered by navigators who can provide care and other information on the spot.

"We’re making sure we identify and meet as many of their needs as possible so that they can stay well when they go home."

The programme was recently recognised as an outstanding innovation by the Health Round Table and there are plans to expand it into primary, maternity, cardiac and cancer care.

A similar project Dr Scott worked on was a whānau hauora assessment during the COVID-19 response.

A call centre staffed by volunteers and staff from Waikato DHB contacted around 3000 kaumātua and screened more than 1000. They were asked if they needed any information about COVID-19 or if they needed help with getting medication or food.

Those who did have a health need were then connected to a senior Māori nurse on the same day to help solve their issues.

Waikato Diabetes Research Team nominated

The Waikato Diabetes Research Team was the other finalist in the Waikato DHB Medical Science Award category.

The joint Waikato DHB and University of Waikato project is taking data from primary and secondary health services to identify gaps in the management of Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes across the region.

There are around 25,000 diabetics in Waikato, most of whom are Type-2.

The data is matched against the national pharmaceutical database which paints a picture of what kinds of medications are prescribed in primary care and which ones actually get dispensed.

This can help pinpoint possible reasons why patients may not be getting their medicines, including financial barriers to filling a prescription and whether GPs are prescribing appropriate medications.

Understanding holes in the system will also help health services plug addressable gaps which can also include better education for newly diagnosed patients. It can also be used to guide wider changes in the models of care provided.

Type-2 diabetics are predominantly managed in primary care, but a large proportion end up in the hospital system because their condition may not be well managed.

This may be for myriad reasons, including not wanting to inject insulin, forgetting to take medication, or a lack of knowledge about managing the condition.

1-in-6 adult patients in hospital have diabetes, while the rate in the community is 1-in-11.

Insight from the initiative hopes to improve management and care, which would ultimately decrease the rates of hospitalisation.

Waikato District Health Board endocrinologist and diabetologist and University of Waikato Senior Lecturer Dr Ryan Paul says the burden of diabetes creates some of the biggest inequities among Māori and rural populations, which are two groups the DHB has prioritised for improving health outcomes.

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