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Safeguard access to healthcare for terminal and acute patients

Graphic: Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt

Decisions on the allocation of resources and treatment must be transparent, evidence-based and non-discriminatory, the Commission said.

"Access to health care for people with terminal and acute conditions must be safeguarded," said Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt.

"These are extraordinary times for our health care decision makers with hospitals focussing their services and staff on fighting COVID-19. This focus, while necessary has, in turn, caused delays in a range of critically important procedures or treatments," he said.

"At this time, I am deeply concerned for people with a terminal disease, for those with acute conditions, and for those waiting to hear whether they have these conditions."

Mr Hunt urged health officials to ensure their decisions on the allocation of resources and treatment are transparent, evidence-based and non-discriminatory.

Independent monitoring and review by the Health and Disability Commissioner and the Human Rights Commission is especially needed at this time to ensure the measures taken are fair, proportionate and reasonable.

The Human Rights Commission is responding to COVID-19 in three ways:

  • Advisory: Active involvement in forums and bi-lateral discussions with government agencies to ensure that human rights are at the forefront of decision making and the impacts on vulnerable and at-risk people are taken into account when making decisions at this time.
  • Community: Connecting with iwi and our most marginalised communities that are impacted so, if necessary, the Commission can add its voice to their concerns.
  • Accountability: The Government is working hard to protect its citizens but it can sometimes overreach. The Commission has a role to ensure that the decisions made, and their implementation, adhere to core human rights principles and are proportionate, necessary and legal.

Date: 17 April 2020

Source: New Zealand Human Rights Commission


Image credits

  1. Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt - New Zealand Human Rights Commission