At the APAC Forum in 2015, Ko Awatea director Professor Jonathon Gray delivered a keynote presentation titled ‘Stronger together’.
In this presentation he spoke of his motivation and passion for equity in healthcare. He speaks of his experience as a 12 year old boy, standing in one of two lunch lines at school: one for children who paid, and one for children who were given free meals. Professor Gray was in the ‘free meals’ line and those in this line sat in a different place from the others and may have even eaten different food. They were different and were made to feel different. He knew then, as he knows now, that things didn’t have to be this way and it was this sense of injustice that drove him to make a difference.
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While significant work has been undertaken to improve health equity in Counties Manukau, there are still two lines in our system. We have to make even more changes in order to improve health outcomes for our communities. This need is reflected in the Counties Manukau Health (CM Health) strategic plan ‘Healthy Together’ which aims to achieve equity in key health indicators. To support the achievement of this goal, Ko Awatea is leading a new health equity campaign.
The initial focus of this campaign will be two-fold: to accelerate the spread of effective interventions that address childhood obesity disparities by fostering healthy communities, people and whānau and to support healthy services by building the capability of the CM Health workforce to apply a health equity approach in their work.
To bring an additional level of expertise in this field to the campaign, Ko Awatea has welcomed to their team Dr Lance O’Sullivan. Of his appointment as senior clinical fellow, Professor Gray described Dr O’Sullivan as an “unstoppable force” with a lot of energy for health promotion and is delighted to have him onboard.
Dr O’Sullivan’s first interaction with Ko Awatea was at the inaugural APAC Forum in 2012 (where he got the idea to create iMOKO, an innovative telehealth programme). Since then he has become well known for his campaigning for equity in healthcare and health outcomes and is excited to be able to share his wealth of ideas on how to get South Auckland kids more active and eating healthily.
This week, Dr O’Sullivan sat down with Te Karere to talk more on his passion and vision for health equity in Counties Manukau.