Skin conditions are known to disproportionately affect Māori and Pasifika, children under 4, and New Zealanders living in more deprived areas of Aotearoa New Zealand. The higher prevalence of skin diseases among Māori and Pasifika in Aotearoa New Zealand and other Indigenous groups around the world has been linked to many factors, including the impact of socio-economic factors, inadequate and overcrowded housing, lack of access to primary healthcare, poverty, health literacy and the historical effects of colonisation.
The risks of untreated skin conditions include secondary infection by Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus; GAS), which can lead to cellulitis, bacteraemia and osteomyelitis. Researchers have reported robust evidence linking a GAS-positive throat or skin swab to the subsequent triggering of acute rheumatic fever (ARF), particularly in vulnerable Indigenous communities. In an Auckland analysis of laboratory skin swabs, Māori and Pasifika under 20 years of age had considerably higher GAS detected than in European and other ethnicities.Māori and Pasifika in Aotearoa New Zealand have some of the highest rates of rheumatic fever in the world.
The aim of this research was to understand the utilisation of the Whakarongorau Aotearoa | New Zealand Telehealth Services’ free 24/7 Healthline service for skin conditions, with a specific interest in whether Māori and Pasifika were utilising the service and their subsequent call outcomes. This study aimed to analyse the outcomes of skin condition calls made through Healthline and investigate which service users were advised to go to emergency departments (EDs; within the recommended 6 hours).