Project to tackle Pasifika health issues
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.
Pegasus Health’s Pacific health manager Maria Pasene mentoring the ‘‘church champions’’.