June 16, 2022
Long Covid compounding Maori health inequity
An epidemiologist is warning of a looming health equity crisis because of long Covid.
Dr Mona Jeffreys from Victoria University of Wellington is part of a Ministry of Health-funded study of people who had pre-Omicron variants of Covid-19.
She says it’s finding people have long Covid without realising it, and many GPs still don’t recognise the condition or know what to do.
Going on international figures, 5 to 10 percent of those who have had Covid will still have symptoms or feel bad three months later.
“If you think about the number of people we’ve got currently in Aotearoa, we’ve got 211,000 Māori who have had Covid, and that’s people who have reported their positive tests to the Ministry of Health so we know there’s more than that. Now if we think about 5 percent of those people, that’s still tens of thousands of people we’re talking abut and it’s really significant,” Dr Jeffreys says.
For Māori, long Covid becomes compounded by systemic barriers to accessing care, and for those Māori in lower income bands having to take time off work heightens the financial impact.