Among the many adjustments migrants to Aotearoa New Zealand face, one of the most important is understanding the health system. Often this can be left until health concerns arise which is a vulnerable time to try and navigate an unfamiliar structure.

Edith Yi, an Administrator with the Pegasus Health General Practice and Community Service Team, said that she understands coming to terms with a new health system can be challenging, and there can be difficulties in accessing healthcare due to cultural barriers.

“Trust is huge because there can often be a cultural barrier to sharing intimate details. My first advice would be to enrol with a GP,” Edith said.

For various countries, the first stop for healthcare is the hospital as community-based doctors and nurses are uncommon. Other key parts of our health system such as Healthline, ACC and community support services are also unfamiliar to migrants.

“The systems are different in Aotearoa. If it is urgent, we call 111 or visit the emergency department or 24 Hour Surgery. If it is not urgent, we visit our GP or nurse who is based in our community,” Edith said.

For migrants uncertain about accessing healthcare, Edith recommends talking to their whānau or church group. In addition, international students can speak to their university or high school groups.

Edith also recommends the Pegasus Health-funded interpreting service.

“Call your GP and let them know you require an interpreter for your appointment. The GP must arrange that for you and if they do not you can email to let them know that service was not provided,” Edith said.

Read the full September newsletter here