Health inequalities are avoidable, unnecessary and unjust differences in the health of different groups of people. Reducing inequalities in cancer treatment is integral to the work of the Southern Cancer Network. The Network has a responsibility to assist the Crown in meeting its obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi and policies and documents such as the New Zealand Health and Disability Act 2000 (NZHD Act) guide this work.
This Act requires that SCN acts to reduce health disparities by improving health outcomes for iwi/Māori in Te Waipounamu. To do this, SCN is establishing and maintaining processes that enable Māori to participate in and contribute towards strategies for Māori health improvement. This recognises and respects the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.
The provision of this service is guided by He Korowai Oranga: 2002 Māori Health Strategy, Whakatataka Māori Health Action Plan 2002 - 2005 and Whakatataka Tuarua: Māori Health Action Plan 2006 – 2011, as directed by the Ministry of Health. The Cancer Control Strategy and Action Plan 2005 - 2010 refers specifically to initiatives for Māori health in objectives 95 to 102.
Health inequalities can be reduced by using tools that enable the assessment of policies, programmes and services in use. Through examining these interventions, decisions can be made about how to make them more effective. The Health Equity Assessment Tool (HEAT) is one tool that aims to promote equity in health in New Zealand, and The Health Equity Assessment Tool: A User's Guide explains more about its use. The Whānua Ora Health Impact Assessment is another tool that can be used to support Māori health and wellbeing by looking at the effects of policy on whānau.