The publication has been prepared by the Public Health Intelligence unit of the Ministry of Health for the Māori Health Directorate, and is based on the ‘PHI Occasional Bulletin: Results from the Prisoner Health Survey 2005’ which was released in December 2006. The Prisoner Health Survey 2005 was conducted by the Ministry of Health to improve understanding of the extent of the health needs among New Zealand prisoners and to inform future prisoner health service planning, policy, processes and programmes.
The booklet describes the health of Māori male sentenced prisoners at a point in time and covers chronic disease and head injury, risk factors, protective factors, oral health, health service utilisation, and refers to previous research on Māori male prisoners.
Introduction to Māori male prisoner health
Almost 50% of prisoners are Māori. Improving Māori health outcomes and reducing Māori health inequalities are government priorities.
Given the high and disproportionate rate of imprisonment of Māori, this makes the health of prisoners an important issue for Māori health, and for contributing to reducing Māori and non-Māori health inequalities – both overall inequalities and any that might exist within the prisoner population.
- Almost 50% of sentenced male prisoners are Māori.
- Forty-seven percent of Māori male prisoners have a chronic disease of some kind that has been diagnosed by a doctor.
- The most common chronic disease in Māori male prisoners is asthma, with a prevalence of 21%.
- Māori males were significantly more likely than non-Māori males to have a history of head injury. Approximately three-quarters of Māori male prisoners have a history of a head injury where they became unconscious or ‘blacked out’.
- Sixty-eight percent of Māori male prisoners are current smokers.
- There was an overall trend for Māori to have a higher prevalence than non-Māori across all the risk factors (high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, overweight or obese BMI, current tobacco smoker, needle use in prison and ever use of drugs).
- Seventy-two percent of Māori male prisoners eat the recommended number of servings of fruit each day and 64% eat the recommended number of servings of vegetables each day.
- Māori males are significantly less likely than non-Māori males to have decreased their physical activity since coming to prison.
- Māori male prisoners tend to rate their dental health as being better than two years previously (37%) and are twice as likely as non-Māori to do so.
- Forty-four percent of Māori male prisoners had seen a GP in the 12 months prior to entering prison.
- As well as seeing the prison nurse and/or doctor, 18% of Māori male prisoners have seen a medical specialist and over half (55%) another health care worker in the last 12 months in prison.