NZ's Ministry of Health Labeled Racist
New Zealand's Ministry of Health has been criticised as Eurocentric and racist for not funding baskets for babies at risk of death when sleeping in the same bed as their parents.
Maori Women's Welfare League president Prue Kapua last week said the baskets were keeping babies safe, and the lack of funding for them shows the Ministry has a Eurocentric view by promoting the idea of babies sleeping in a separate bed.
About 50 babies, more than half Maori, die in their sleep each year. This is despite Maori comprising just 15% of the population.
Most babies are accidentally suffocated by their parents while sleeping in the same bed.
Maori GP Rawiri Tipene-Leach, who designed the first baskets, has accused the Ministry of Health of racism for not funding the baskets, and that their attitude is one of superiority.
"...if the whole world of scientists can't come up with something that is going to save babies, how can some bunch of Maori come up with a woven basket that they say is safe...?"
Mr Leach further condemned the government when he was quoted in The New Zealand Herald as saying:
"You want to know why we are in this situation?"
"The answer is because the parents of dead brown babies don't vote."
The Ministry of Health claims there is not sufficient evidence of the effectiveness of the baskets to justify the $1.5 million they cost per year , but it will consider the funding "If well-conducted high-quality research demonstrates clearly that [the] pods are safe and effective..."
Auckland University professor of child health research Ed Mitchell hoped newly published research by his team last month would encourage the government to fund sleeping baskets to all at-risk babies.