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Global problems
P2-489 Relatively high mortality for Maori and Pacific peoples in the 2009 influenza pandemic and comparisons with previous pandemics
  1. N Wilson1,
  2. L T Barnard1,
  3. J Summers1,
  4. D Shanks2,
  5. M Baker1
  1. 1University of Otago, Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
  2. 2Australian Army Malaria Institute, Gallipoli Barracks, Brisbane, Australia

Abstract

Introduction There is evidence that indigenous peoples suffered disproportionately in the 2009 influenza pandemic, and we aimed to examine any such patterns for Māori and Pacific peoples in New Zealand (NZ).

Methods We analysed data from a national Mortality Review Committee and conducted analyses for datasets covering the 1918 and 1957 influenza pandemic periods.

Results In the 2009 pandemic the Māori mortality rate (2/100 000) was higher than the European New Zealander rate (1.7 and 2.6 times, depending on the method of age-standardisation and with only the latter result being statistically significant). Pacific peoples in NZ had a higher mortality rate (5/100 000) which was significantly higher than that for European New Zealanders (4.6–4.8 times). These mortality differentials for the 2009 pandemic were consistent with those seen for hospital and intensive care admissions. By comparison, the Māori mortality rate in the 1918 pandemic (4230/100 000 population) was 7.3 times the European settler rate. For NZ military personnel we estimated the mortality rate for Māori was 2.3 times the European rate. In the 1957 pandemic the Māori mortality rate (40/100 000) was 6.2 times the European rate.

Conclusion Mortality rates in the 2009 influenza pandemic for Māori and Pacific peoples were elevated compared to other New Zealanders. This pattern is consistent with previous pandemics, albeit with evidence for some decline in relative ethnic health inequalities over the past century. Nevertheless, the persistence of such inequalities in 2009 highlights the need for improved public health responses.

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