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Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency (WOCA) has announced that it will redeploy Whānau Ora funding and resources to fight the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).

WOCA will use the funds to support whānau Māori, especially kaumātua and those most vulnerable to the virus.

“We are going to stand up against this virus together, because we know that our communities are more susceptible to these kinds of viruses than the general population. We owe it to whānau to create a for Māori, by Māori strategy to protect their health and wellbeing at this uncertain time,” said John Tamihere, CEO of WOCA.

“It is well-documented that Māori have higher rates of chronic diseases, including respiratory diseases, and this puts us at a higher risk of negative health outcomes from COVID-19, compounded by inequities and barriers in the healthcare system,” Mr Tamihere added.

Furthermore, with many whānau Māori living in areas with limited medical resources, there are fears among Whānau Ora providers that a COVID-19 outbreak will stretch resources.

“Hygiene is now extraordinarily important so, as part of our strategy, we are in the process of putting together hygiene kits for our whānau in financial difficulty. Through Whānau Ora partners, we have strong channels of distribution by dedicated navigators who know best the local communities and their needs,” Mr Tamihere said.

The kits will contain products such as hand sanitiser, sanitary pads, rubber gloves and disinfectant. WOCA aims to send out 10,000 packs in the first wave, with a further 20,000 packs already on order.

20 March 2020

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