Winston Peters is employing classic diversion techniques in order to avoid answering questions as to why he hasn’t sacked Mr Prosser – in this case it is an attack on the associate Ministry of Health about funding of traditional Māori healing (rongoā Māori) through Whanau Ora (apparently $1.9M worth). He claims that there is no measure of efficacy and that even the numbers of recipients of the service are unknown.
If he is correct, then he has a point. No Ministry of Health funding should be spent without either good evidence or a good program to gather evidence (presumably first as a pilot scheme and then with continued monitoring).
There is framework by which such evidence could be gathered. The framework was the culmination of a research project which developed outcome measures for rongoā Māori based on Māori concepts of wellness.
The Ngā Tohu o te Ora (signs of wellness) research project was developed to investigate outcomes associated with rongoā Māori, in order that this traditional practice might enjoy increased support as a funded service. The primary aims were to:
Identify wellness outcome measures used by traditional Māori healers, and
Develop and test a framework of traditional Māori wellness outcome measures.
I am no position to judge how good the research was and while the reason for developing the framework has an obvious bias (in order that….increased support as a funded service), I would still expect that this framework at least has been employed to assess the efficacy of the services provided by Whanau Ora. Has it? If not this framework, then what?
If there has been no measure of efficacy of the Whanau Ora program, then I wonder what other programs the Ministry of Health has funded without any monitoring?
As long as this is not another Winston Peters beat up, then it may be the tip of the iceberg and an opportunity for evidence based medicine to be pushed to the fore in the MOH.