Newshub Nation: Genetic standards for insurance inherently unequal against indigenous communities - expert

New research has revealed that Kiwis are deliberately avoiding sometimes essential genetic testing because of a fear that the information will be used against them by their insurance companies. However Māori data specialist Dr Karaitiana Taiuru believes the research missed an opportunity to also investigate the inequality genetic testing can impose on Māori and Pacifica communities. 

Health officials are calling for a ban on genetic discrimination where insurance companies increase premiums - or even deny insurance altogether - based on someone's genetics.

Dr Taiuru said it impacts Māori more than Pakeha, and joined Simon Shepherd on Newshub Nation to discuss how genetic technology, in general, can disadvantage indigenous peoples.

He told Newshub Nation that "it's basically only Pākehā genes and diseases that we know about". 

"When you are genetically tested, you are tested against a European cohort of genes which does not match up to Māori genes for a start."

Dr Taiuru believes that increasing resistance to getting genetic tests amongst indigenous communities is putting lives at risk and leading to people shying away from getting life-saving treatment. 

During his research, Dr Taiuru interviewed over 200 people about various parts of gene research and "overall, they were scared of gene research". 

"There's a mistrust of the health system, there's a mistrust of government, and we've seen generations of Māori who refuse to go to the doctor because they don't trust the doctor or they feel belittled."

To find out more, watch Dr Taiuru's full interview. 

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Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.