Issues of the healthcare of indigenous peoples have long been more fraught than those of non-indigenous peoples. However, now a University of Auckland researcher is making waves in the field along with L’Oréal. Dr Martire Harwood is a clinical researcher, with a Bachelor of Medicine/Surgery and a PhD under her belt. Harwood has been named the 2017 New Zealand research Fellow in the prestigious L’Oréal UNESCO Women In Science programme and will spend the year further investigating differences and issues in indigenous peoples. Australia and New Zealand have notably inequal healthcare between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples, and the area is an international priority. Harwood has discovered a significant success rate when health care issues are combatted with indigenous-led intervention, and it is this approach she will focus on in her studies – which specifically relate to cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, respiratory conditions, obesity and smoking. Harwood is particularly known for her novel approaches to health care intervention, which have a community focus for common problems and individualised programs – it is these novel approaches, and unique attention which enables Harwood to achieve greater success than non-indigenous healthcare systems which often fail the indigenous population. The inclusion of indigenous methods and treatments is also an important part of indigenous healthcare which Harwood is championing.
The L’Oréal UNESCO Women In Science programme awards fellowships to three Australian and one New Zealand researcher every year and has been in place for the last nineteen years. Two previous fellows have gone on to receive the Nobel Prize.