Empowering Pasifika communities to lead healthier lives


Dr Riz Firestone from the Centre for Public Health
Research, Massey University.

A Massey University researcher has been awarded funding for a project which aims to empower Pasifika communities.

The $1 million grant is part of the long-term conditions research partnership between the Health Research Council of New Zealand, Ministry of Health, and Healthier Lives National Science Challenge. It will enable Dr Riz Firestone, of the Centre for Public Health Research, to launch a study entitled ‘Empowering Pacific Island Communities to Lead Healthier Lifestyles’.                                 

“The prevalence rates of prediabetes among the young working age groups of Pasifika people, aged between 18 to 45 years, is alarmingly high. If left untreated, the chances of developing potentially fatal long-term conditions is great,” Dr Firestone says.

“An effective intervention programme that adopts a culturally-centred approach that is led by the community and encompasses the social-physical-cultural realities of the environment is necessary to tackle the growing epidemic of prediabetes.”

Working in collaborative partnership with Pasifika communities, Dr Firestone and her team propose to implement a programme that will:

  • Undertake an empowerment programme of young Pasifika adults (15-24 year olds) to build knowledge and improve health to help avoid prediabetes
  • Utilise co-design (a relatively new approach in public health) to develop a community-based intervention programme

This project builds on previous Pacific youth and obesity research conducted by Dr Firestone and funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand. “The co-design nature of the project allows for Pasifika communities to become engaged in the ‘ideas stage' of the community intervention - something that is not often considered by health researchers. This project also provides a fantastic opportunity to build health research capacity among emerging researchers as well as within the participating communities,” Dr Firestone says.

The project gets underway in October.

Click here to watch a YouTube video of Dr Firestone talking about her current research project, funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand.


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