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Focus on achieving Pacific health equity and outcomes

Focus on achieving Pacific health equity and outcomes

  • 08 Feb 2021
Junior Mihi edited

Dr Avataeao Junior Ulu has started a new path as the 2DHB Director Pacific Peoples Health, leading the work of the Pacific Health team and implementation of the 3DHB Pacific Health and Wellbeing Strategic Plan for the Greater Wellington Region.

A member of the 2DHB Executive Leadership Team (ELT), Dr Ulu started his role in January of this year, supporting the transformation of Hutt Valley District Health Board (HVDHB) and Capital and Coast District Health Board (CCDHB) to achieve Pacific health equity and outcomes.

These two DHBs cover the greater Wellington, Kapiti and Hutt Valley regions and provide hospital and health services to a total population base of approximately 445,000 people.

Most of the population lives in Wellington and Lower Hutt and while Lower Hutt and Wellington’s Māori and Pacific populations of Lower Hutt and Wellington are proportionally similar, the region’s largest Pacific population is in Porirua.

Kapiti and Upper Hutt have similar numbers of Māori and Pacific people.

As most people are enrolled with a General Practitioner near their place of residence, there is increasing focus on community-based healthcare, which is anticipated to lead to better health outcomes.

With a PhD in Development Studies from the Victoria University of Wellington, Dr Ulu has broad experience in both health and development.

He is passionate about achieving equity in access and health outcomes for Pacific peoples and communities.

Most recently, he was the Director Pacific Development at the Pasifika Medical Association and prior to this worked with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), Oxfam, ChildFund, the United Nations Development Programme, Counties-Manukau DHB, and Volunteer Service Abroad.

In his new role,Dr Ulu will work in partnership with executive colleagues to measure, mentor and improve performance and provide leadership by establishing and maintaining national, regional and local networks and initiatives.

The core purpose of his role includes engaging and working with the Pacific community as partners towards improving health outcomes for Pacific people; providing proactive strategic thinking and leadership on issues that impact Pacific health outcomes; and ensuring the DHBs’ strategy and plans are informed by the needs of Pacific peoples and key stakeholders are appropriately involved in service planning and provision.

He will lead the development and maintenance of effective networks and strategic relationships with key stakeholder groups whose mandate impacts upon the health outcomes of Pacific people; and help lead the design and development of workforce initiatives to increase the number of Pacific peoples working in the health workforce as well as increasing the capability of our workforce on Pacific people’s issues.

It is a challenging task ahead - one which Dr Ulu is more than ready for.

He will work, when needed, with the Wairarapa DHB to provide strategic support and advice on strategies and plans to improve the health outcomes for Pacific people in the region, and he holds operational responsibility for Pacific health services in both the CCDHB and HVDHB regions.

Launched last year, the Pacific Health and Wellbeing Strategic Plan for the Greater Wellington Region 2020-2025 will guide the work local DHBs do with Pacific communities.

It illustrates the DHBs’ strong commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of Pacific peoples and was developed in partnership with Pacific community providers, the 3DHB Sub Regional Pacific Health Strategic Group – covering Wairarapa, Hutt Valley, and Capital and Coast – and involved staff from across the DHBs alongside service providers including Te Awakairangi Health Network, Compass Health, Regional Public Health, Pacific Providers, and other mainstream providers.

Six priorities are the basis of the plan, including Pacific child health and wellbeing; Pacific young people; Pacific adults and ageing well; Pacific health workforce and Pacific providers/non-governmental organisations; social determinants of health; and a culturally responsive and integrated health system. 

The DHBs in the Greater Wellington Region will be ensuring these priorities are embedded in their work as part of their ongoing commitment to taking a whole-of-system approach to achieve better health outcomes for Pacific peoples.