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Pasifika artist teams up with Porirua healthcare service for covid-19 hygiene advice

Press Release – Pacific Health Plus

Pacific Health Plus (PHP), a Pacific Primary Healthcare service in Cannons Creek, East Porirua, is using artwork by Wellington-based Pasifika artist Michel Tuffery to help inform communities about best practice hygiene for keeping safe from the spread of COVID-19.

“Information circulating about how to maintain good health is more important now than ever before,” says Lee Pearce, Director at Pacific Health Plus. “While health organisations and governments are working hard to put out clear messaging around this, it is important for communities to feel like they are being spoken to directly.

“That is why I approached Michel, who we have worked with before, to develop some images we could use for sharing information,” says Lee.

“Of the 2234 people enrolled at Pacific Health Plus, 60% are high needs patients with chronic conditions and high needs,” says John Fiso, owner and board chair of PHP. “Therefore, it is essential we inform our patients of good hygiene practices to keep the vulnerable safe and healthy. We must go over and above to protect our Pasifika communities.”

Michel’s “Handle with Care” series, take inspiration from postal services, using Pacific and New Zealand postage stamps redesigned with individuals wearing face masks and rubber gloves, stamped over with a ‘fragile’ sticker.

“The series is trying to show how fragile our community is, and that we really need to look after our elderly, and those with health conditions,” says Michel.

The images have been printed as posters and put up around the local community in the pharmacies and supermarkets as well as at neighbouring health clinics and on Facebook and websites.

Michel has worked with PHP before, assisting with youth engagement and therapy classes as well as decorating a mural outside PHP premises to brighten the otherwise severe surroundings of the building in east Porirua.

“It is hard to know how you can help from isolation but as an artist, creating art to spread important messages, is how I can do my bit for my communities in this tough time,” says Michel.

PHP is still open and seeing patients, but in a different way explains Lee. “We are doing flu vaccinations, child immunisations and seeing patients using a variety of methods such as staggered appointments, video/phone consultations. We are also utilising technology for other services including remote access.

“It is important we keep the basic health of this community as strong as possible to eliminate vulnerabilities to COVID-19,” says Lee.

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