Technological support critical for rural communities to access health services

The CEO of a health and social services provider for Pacific families in Tokoroa says there is a strong need to provide technology support to the community after new health and disability guidelines have recommended an increased focus on using technology to make it easier for those living in rural areas to access specialist care.

Mrs Akarere Henry of the South Waikato Pacific Islands Community Services Trust, a Pasifika Futures partner, in Tokoroa says the recommendations which have been part of significant health reforms recently announced by the Government earlier this week, means that online access to health services and device usage will be critical if these recommendations are to be meaningful and useful for Pacific families. 

“The greatest challenge in our rural areas is access, whether that be access in terms of transport or access to digital services and the technology around that, like the connection to Wifi or the ability to log on.

The fact that we have another portal for our communities to access our health services  is going to be a significant benefit to the Pasifika community at large.”

She says current resources do not focus on providing technological support. But she says it needs to be a priority, especially since it has been identified in the recent health reform announcements.

“There is a whole education process, in particular with our senior members of our Pacific community, to get them to a point where they can navigate this technology and use the appropriate devices. This process has not been a priority and we are still needing partnerships and stakeholders to understand and support this.”

She says that support also includes assistance with families having access to reliable WiFi and internet connections.

“This is the way of the future and we must embrace and engage. But the process before that is to ensure that all of the other basic components are in place.”


Date: Friday 23 April 2021