Multi-lingual PACMAT team depart for the Hawke's Bay
Updates / News, 21 Feb 23
The Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) have deployed a multi-lingual Medical Assistance Team (PACMAT) today to provide primary care, psychosocial and mental health support for communities affected by Cyclone Gabrielle in the Hawke's Bay region.

In an interview for RNZ's Nine to Noon show, PMA Chief Executive, Debbie Sorensen, says one of the key concerns that have been identified is the language barrier which has seen a large population of RSE workers left isolated from necessary support. 

"A lot of these young men and women have lost everything that they came with and are very anxious; they’ve been traumatised as has everyone in the region, but they don’t have family support, they don’t have people who understand their language and who can communicate with them. 

We’re dealing with post-trauma work, people who are frightened and anxious so we have a full mental health team going which will include a psychiatrist, psychiatric nurses, therapists and counsellors." 

The PACMAT team will consist of people who can speak Tongan, Tuvaluan, Samoan, Fijian, Kiribati, Tok Pisin (Papua New Guinea) and Bislama (Vanuatu).  

Mrs Sorensen adds that along with mental health support, the team will provide medical support in response to the high number of people reporting health and skin related issues from the flooding. 

"Our teams, when they came back from the region on Sunday, are reporting growing cases of diarrhoea, vomiting and skin infection as people have moved through the dirty water.  

We are taking public health specialists for exactly that reason and then they can provide really good information back to Te Whatu Ora and to the Public Health agency."