The Māori chemist determined to make a change

Māori chemist Brendon McIntosh is on a mission to bridge the gap between te ao Māori and their health professionals. 

The Christchurch-based pharmacist is not only helping kaumatua and kuia on the ground as a community pharmacist, he's wanting to change the way pharmacists interact with Māori throughout the country. 

"I think that's a big part that's missing in the health system, building that initial relationship, that whanaungatanga."

Brendon is one of only a handful of Māori pharmacists in Christchurch, and he's seen first-hand the struggle kaumatua are facing on the ground.

"It's the disconnect or the disengagement from medicines. They may have taken a medicine once before and got an upset stomach or feel mauiui or something, and then they would just not take anything anymore."

Brendon McIntosh.
Brendon McIntosh. Photo credit: The Hui

The state of Māori health in Aotearoa hasn't changed for years. Māori still lead the statistics in low life expectancy, and almost all chronic and infectious diseases, including injuries and suicide.

Brendon believes, the whole health system is broken and there needs to be a focus on equity in order to improve Māori health outcomes.

The community pharmacy group is a collection of Canterbury pharmacists. Chairwoman Aarti Patel acknowledges their shortfall within Māori communities.

"We are delivering services, but we recognise that these services are not reaching everybody that it needs to reach right and especially our Māori population need. So, there's a we know that service delivery is inequitable."

McIntosh is making change - he's prepared a document, Matauranga Māori in Pharmacy, which will be sent out to all pharmacies in Canterbury. 

Watch the video for the full report from The Hui.