I feel like I am on the frontline. Not the one with the doctors and nurses and the protective PPE gear and the swabbing and injecting. But a public health, evidence-based, equity focused, Treaty frontline.
It’s scary here. Every day, I have to stop my tears from overwhelming me.
I am a public health physician and an associate professor in Māori Health at the University of Auckland. I have trained in epidemiology and I am immersed in health equity research. I can see and inherently know the terror being unleashed on my people. And I am deeply concerned.
I want you to make sound, evidence-based judgements. I want you to live up to your Treaty responsibilities. Even the 3 Ps — partnership, participation, and protection — would be something right now. But I’m not seeing that. Not when it comes to Māori health equity.
How did you decide that stealing tūpāpaku (shrouded in PPE alien uniforms) from the arms of their loved ones would ever be an acceptable approach? How could you not scientifically determine the real risk of whether or not a tūpāpaku is contagious? Or whether the risk of multiple “bubbles” can be managed by funeral directors?
How could you not — especially when we are now managing the risk of shopping for food or getting some exercise?
As a public health physician, I would never support actions that would increase the spread of infection. But scientific evidence tells us that the deceased body is not contagious.
The key risk is that the tūpāpaku or the coffin could act as a surface where roimata, hupe and saliva may transmit the virus between mourners. But this can be managed under strict conditions that Māori — arguably all — funeral directors are adamant they can provide.
This means that viewing at funeral homes doesn’t require being restricted to only “the deceased’s bubble”. Lifting that restriction doesn’t raise the risk of transmission. It may require managing numbers from any one bubble, or separating multiple bubbles from immediate whānau.
The point is, it’s entirely possible to give grieving whānau the dignity of a modified tangihanga while also maintaining safety from Covid-19….READ THE REST
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