On June 19, seven members of a New Zealand health delegation met with several HIP-Cuyahoga Steering Committee members at a meeting hosted by The Center for Health Affairs. The New Zealand health delegation had learned about HIP-Cuyahoga’s collective efforts to improve health and achieve equity and wanted to learn more about specific strategies used and lessons learned during their visit to several cities in the United States. The meeting offered a unique opportunity to share work done to achieve equity on different sides of the globe.
The New Zealand health executives serve the Māori population, which is the indigenous population in New Zealand. While the Māori population comprises 15 percent of New Zealand’s population, they face many health challenges and have life-expectancy rates which lag those of the majority population. Colonization and disinvestment in the Māori population were cited as reasons for the unequal health outcomes many Māori people experience compared to other ethnic groups in New Zealand.
Highlights of the New Zealand health delegation’s work include efforts to eliminate health disparities for the Māori population, with a particular focus on decreasing rates of chronic disease, smoking cessation, increasing preventive efforts, and increasing the recruitment of Māori people into the healthcare profession. The health delegation shared three things they have learned in their work serving the Māori population:
- Be deliberate and intentional.
- Value Māori intelligence.
- Be champions and be the change you want to be.
Greg Brown and Dr. Heidi Gullett, HIP-Cuyahoga co-chairs, shared background information on HIP-Cuyahoga including how it was formed, the current infrastructure, and the types of organizations and individuals actively participating in the consortium. They shared data showing health disparities in Cuyahoga County, explained why a collective impact approach is used, and described how an equity lens guides efforts to address HIP-Cuyahoga’s four key priority areas:
- Eliminate structural racism.
- Healthy eating and active living.
- Linking clinical and public health.
- Chronic disease management.
The New Zealand health delegation and members of HIP-Cuyahoga’s Steering Committee noted the many parallels, in terms of health outcomes, experienced by indigenous populations in New Zealand and people of color in Cuyahoga County. While the populations served are different and the historical narrative is not identical, the New Zealand health executives’ intentional efforts to address and eliminate racism are parallel to HIP-Cuyahoga’s efforts to eliminate structural racism.