Recently I had the honour and privilege of being invited by Dr Lance O’Sullivan to join his MaiHealth team on a Hikoi to China. The invitation came on the back of the MaiHealth ready access hauora pop up clinic that Te Hau Ora Ō Ngāpuhi partnered with Lance on around the Christmas/New Year period. We got more than 340 new registrations and did 280 consults and on top of our commitment to provide better access to healthcare for our whānau, we were invited on the trip to Shenzhen, China as the only Iwi delegate.
In China we were hosted by Huawei and they treated us so well. The aim was firstly to develop whanaungatanga – building relationships is something the Chinese value in their culture as much as we do in ours – and then it was about listening and learning, visiting their different factories and conference centres, learning what was being done in this space. Our purpose was to look at opportunities about what this capability could look like back home in Lance’s pop-up clinics, as well as in our Taraire housing development in Kaikohe.
A few days before we were due to fly home, news about a virus outbreak was making headline news (and by the time we got home it had been declared a pandemic). One morning in Shenzhen people on the streets weren’t wearing masks, but by the afternoon most had them on, thermo imaging scanners were activated in train stations, and our temperatures were taken before we could go into our hotel.
If you want to be anywhere when an outbreak hits, Dr Lance O’Sullivan is about the best person you could be with. He’s a GP, public health advocate, and has studied in a number of specialty areas including viral pandemics. He’s also seen so much in his career that he doesn’t panic, and he’s not an alarmist – he recognised a similar pattern to the spread of news regarding other viral outbreaks including SARS and H1N1 Swine Flu (which wasn’t anywhere as catastrophic as had been predicted, thank goodness) and Lance helped put this new one into perspective for us. He’s also been trying to do that since he got home and has copped some flak for it, but he’s holding his ground. And the World Health Organisation is on the same page as him, so he knows what he’s talking about, especially when you consider 7,000 people across 150 countries work for the WHO, and Lance is just… well, Lance. One guy. Giving the same message. He also pointed out that 56,000 people around the world die every year from the flu, so like the flu, the common cold, and a host of other contagious respiratory illnesses that can kill, we need to be vigilant with our prevention – make sure you and your whānau practise safe hygiene at home, schools, workplaces and when you’re out in public. Until a vaccination is available (and this could take up to a year) prevention has and will continue to be the best defence against viral infection.
Kia noho ora e te whānau, stay safe.
Nāku noa, nā