The government has made it clear that one of the weapons for fighting Covid-19 is testing. Identifying and isolating confirmed cases as early as possible is the most effective way to break the chain of transmission.
To this end, the government has set up several testing centres throughout the Auckland region. However, the Pasifika community faces several barriers to accessing these services. They may not be able to get to the testing station, perhaps they have an elderly family member or a new-born baby in the house, making it hard to get out. Or maybe having English as a second language gets in the way. Whatever the case, the result is the same: fewer Pasifika families being tested and an increased risk of community transmission.
With the support of the Waitemata DHB, The Fono’s mobile testing unit has stepped in to meet the needs of the Pasifika community. The mobile clinic brings testing into family homes and also provides a full translation and follow-up support service. This means every Pasifika family can now access testing regardless of their circumstances.
Referrals to the clinic come from several sources, including GPs, health providers and social services. People are also able to refer themselves. To qualify for the service, patients must have one of the symptoms of coronavirus such as coughing, shortness of breath or a fever.
In addition, the patient must be unable to access one of the regular testing centres.
It’s early days for the clinic, but demand for the mobile unit’s services has been high, with up to 30 tests carried out per day. The clinic operates from 9-3.30 every day and appointments are available outside those hours for those in need. So far, the mobile clinic has visited eight West Auckland local neighbourhoods including Ranui, Te Atatu South, Glendene and New Lynn.
‘There’s a huge need out there’, explains The Fono’s Public Health Manager, Emily Hughes. ‘Depending on funding being available, we hope to carry on with the service into level 3.’
‘The mobile unit has had a big impact on removing some of the barriers that are getting in the way of Pasifika communities accessing this vital service.
‘The work we are doing in bringing testing services into people’s homes will minimise the risk of Covid-19 taking hold in our communities,’ concludes Emily.
To find out more or to access the service, please get in touch with Emily Hughes, Public Health Manager on 021 512 213.