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Future proofing the health system a must: Authority calls for RATS, Medical Manufacturing to return

Future proofing the health system a must: Maori Authority calls for RATS, a national workforce plan and investment in Medical Manufacturing

As the Pandemic enters a new phase the Chair of the National Maori Authority, Matthew Tukaki, has said its also time to begin planning of the short, medium and long term. Tukaki has said that there needs to be new thinking around we handle the next phase of the pandemic with the ongoing risk that new variants will emerge. Tukaki has suggested several measures including closer alignment with the medical device approvals process with Australia when it comes to Rapid Antigen Tests (RATS). Tukaki has also said the nation needs to recalibrate its health workforce plan as well as expanding on the health and medical manufacturing sector:

“New Zealand and Australia already have close ties when it comes to the accreditation framework around quality standards that cover a range of different industries. There is no reason why we shouldn’t look at opening discussions with Australia to have tighter integration between that countries Therapeutic Goods Administration (the TGA) and the Medsafe. If that means it fastens the pace for RATS to be approved as opposed to duplicating the process then that has to be a win for everyone including schools, business and frontline organisations.” Tukaki said

Tukaki indicated one way this could be done is through bilateral negotiations or an overhaul of the Closer Economic Relations agreement (the oldest of New Zealand’s current offshore agreements). Tukaki also said it was long past time to look at New Zealand’s medical and device manufacturing:

“One of the things the pandemic has taught a lot of countries is to be in charge, as much as possible, of its own manufacturing base when it comes to pharma and medical devices. New Zealand is already home to a growing medical technology sector and that’s great – but we also need to think about our own health system security. We wouldn’t need to be reliant on RATS coming in from overseas if we were manufacturing them here, we wouldn’t have to worry about supply of pharma if we were manufacturing it here and we wouldn’t have had to worry about PPE in the early stages if we were manufacturing it here – and yet with that health system security through manufacturing we will also be able to invest in highly skilled and high wage growth jobs – and I can tell you one thing my aspiration is for Maori to play a central role” Tukaki said

“The other thing we need to plan for now is what our workforce needs will be in the medium to long term. It is clear that our health workforce is overloaded and overworked. We already had pressure on our nursing workforce coming into this pandemic as well as pressure on the support and ancillary workforce. We cant just rely on nurses coming in from overseas with open borders – we need to rebuild our bases and if that means investing more in wage growth then so be it. But we also have a perfect opportunity to build that workforce as the higher education reforms also kick into gear. And of course its not just primary health workers we need to really focus our time and attention on building up our workforce when it comes to areas such as mental health and suicide prevention” Tukaki said

Tukaki indicated the National Maori Authority was working on a raft of policies it would be taking to government over the coming weeks but Chair, Matthew Tukaki, said it would take everyone to now focus on solutions and creative thinking – future proofing the health system.


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