“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.
“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. It is crucial that planning and responses are Te Tiriti and human rights-based. Being Tiriti based means that health officials are actioning the articles of Te Tiriti within their decision-making.
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:
1.Advisory: Active involvement in forums and bi-lateral discussions with government agencies to ensure that Te Tiriti and human rights are at the forefront of decision making, and the impacts on people at-risk and most marginalised are taken into account when making decisions at this time.
2.Community: Connecting with iwi and our most marginalised communities that are impacted so, if necessary, the commission can add its voice to their concerns.
3.Accountability: The Government is working hard to protect its citizens but it can sometimes over-reach. The commission has a role in ensuring that the decisions made, and their implementation, adhere to core human rights and Te Tiriti and are proportionate, necessary and legal.
If people have any concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on their human rights they are encouraged to contact the commission on 0800 496 877 and firstname.lastname@example.org.