Project to tackle Pasi­fika health is­sues

Selwyn and Ashburton Outlook - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - MONIQUE STEELE

Can­ter­bury health or­gan­i­sa­tions are com­ing to­gether with churches to tackle Pasi­fika health is­sues.

Seven churches from Christchurch, Ash­bur­ton and West Mel­ton are par­tic­i­pat­ing in a ninemonth com­mit­ment to ed­u­cate and em­power nom­i­nated health cham­pi­ons, who will then take that in­for­ma­tion back to their churches and en­cour­age their con­gre­ga­tion to ben­e­fit from their learn­ings.

The col­lab­o­ra­tive ini­tia­tive is known as the ‘Tu­tupu Project’.

Christchurch’s Ton­gan Sev­enth Day Ad­ven­tist youth leader Teuila Saafi said Pa­cific com­mu­ni­ties were will­ing to in­ves­ti­gate ways to im­prove the health of their fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties.

‘‘We have the abil­ity to link them to re­sources and ser­vices that will work with them in a way that makes sense, like church en­vi­ron­ments where Pa­cific peo­ples nat­u­rally con­nect, sup­port and com­mu­ni­cate with each other.’’

Nu­tri­tion, ex­er­cise and ways to im­prove their health lit­er­acy, in­clud­ing ac­cess­ing doc­tors and fur­ther un­der­stand­ing the health sys­tem, will be top on the agenda for the ‘‘church cham­pi­ons’’.

Or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clud­ing Pe­ga­sus Health, Com­mu­nity and Public Health, Ru­ral Can­ter­bury PHO, Etu Pasi­fika and Healthy Fam­i­lies Christchurch will men­tor the church rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Pe­ga­sus Health’s Pa­cific health man­ager Maria Pasene said health cham­pi­ons will at­tend health ed­u­ca­tion ses­sions that will ex­pand their knowl­edge about nu­tri­tion and the im­por­tance of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity with a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on chil­dren and young peo­ple.

‘‘We have dis­cussed the ways in which Pa­cific peo­ples can help clin­i­cians to as­sist them in their health jour­ney. This in­cludes push­ing past their nat­u­ral shy­ness, speak­ing up and pro­vid­ing im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion at vis­its to the GP and hos­pi­tal and ask­ing ques­tions when they aren’t sure about what’s be­ing dis­cussed.

‘‘It’s im­por­tant to as­sert our needs so that oth­ers can bet­ter pro­vide ser­vices to im­prove our com­mu­ni­ties’ health,’’ she said.

The teach­ing from the work­shops and men­tor­ing is then wo­ven in to church ser­vices.

‘‘Health is one of the ma­jor is­sues our peo­ple are fac­ing here in New Zealand. It’s of great in­ter­est to find new ways of get­ting the mes­sage through,’’ Saafi said.

SUP­PLIED

Pe­ga­sus Health’s Pa­cific health man­ager Maria Pasene men­tor­ing the ‘‘church cham­pi­ons’’.

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