A senior Pacific doctor has applauded the actions of the Pacific community and church leaders who have been proactive during the recent Covid-19 resurgence by ensuring their members are getting tested and following the correct medical advice.
Places of worship, like the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa in Auckland’s Māngere East, have even organised pop-up testing stations that have been set up specifically for church members, after news that the recent cluster of Covid-19 infections have mainly affected Pacific individuals.
Samoan doctor and vice president of the Pasifika Medical Association (PMA), Dr Teuila Percival QSO FRACP, says the messaging from church and community leaders is extremely important during this crisis.
“We’ve seen great leadership from our leaders who are supporting and relaying advice to their congregations and encouraging them to get tested. There’s been a lot of anxiety concerning our community. Despite the worry, our people have been responding very appropriately, by staying home, social distancing and getting tested if they have any symptoms.” says Dr Percival.
The mother of three says there’s an assumption that everyone has access to the technology required to receive important information about Covid-19. She says this is not the case for many Pacific families and that’s why the support from church and community leaders is important.
“Access to information is important because it tells us what to do, what to look out for and where to get tested. A lot of that information is distributed online or on social media. There’s a big data divide within our Pasifika communities. There’s a lot of our people who don’t have access to the internet, don’t have data or smart phones.
That’s why our connectivity and networking within our communities is really important. That’s how we connect to each other and pass on information.”
She hopes that the same community connection will help inform families where to go if they need practical assistance during the crisis.
“There’s help out there and we need to make sure that it’s getting to our people especially to those who have difficulty putting food on their table or paying their rent. There’s support by organisations like Whānau Ora and the Pasifika Medical Association through Pasifika Futures, who provide various services like the distribution of care packages to families.”
She also says the support from church leaders shows how the Pacific community has been part of the solution during the pandemic.
“We’ve been involved in the planning and have come up with the services and support that our people need. We haven’t been passive, instead, we’ve come up with our own solutions.”
Date: Tuesday 18 August 2020