September 09, 2021
Ministry cartel blamed for slow drip saliva testing
Te Whānau o Waipareira head John Tamihere is pointing the finger at Ministry of Health patch protection for the slow roll out of saliva testing for Covid-19.
Waipareira has switched to testing its frontline staff with tests from Rako Science, and Ngāti Hine Health also adopted the technology this week.
The ministry has a contract for saliva testing with Asia Pacific Healthcare Group, but Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says he’s disappointed with the uptake so far by those on the seven-day testing cycle.
Mr Tamihere says he couldn’t wait for the ministry and wanted a quick and effective alternative to nasal testing that would give his workers and their whānau the confidence to keep going out on the front line.
He says it highlights the need for a Māori health authority.
“There’s monopolies in this country, whether it’s in groceries, in petrol, in electricity, cartels, we’re worse than Colombia in that regard for price fixing. What the ministry has done is it hasn’t on-boarded new players like Rako to bring competition to the market. That’s why when we stand our Māori health authority we will be running real tenders, real commissioning,” Mr Tamihere says.
He says saliva testing is also better for other Māori cohorts who don’t want invasive and uncomfortable procedures, including elderly Māori on blood thinning drugs and tangata whai ora.