Kokiri Marae Health and Social Services launches their Moe Ora mō ngā pēpi -SUDI Prevention Programme this week, funded by the Hutt Valley District Health Board (DHB). The programme aims to prevent the occurrence of SUDI through a number of interventions which support smoking cessation and safe sleep practices. The event will launch at Wainuiomata Marae in Lower Hutt where Fay Selby-Law, National SUDI Prevention Coordination Manager, will share SUDI evidence and insights with the sector.

Smoking during pregnancy and unsafe infant bed-sharing are modifiable factors which increase the risk of SUDI. The Kokiri Marae prevention programme offers services which support expectant mothers and their whānau to lead smoke free lives through their Hapū Māmā Stop Smoking Programme. In addition, it also offers education about safe sleep to whānau and providers, and seeks to improve access to safe sleep devices such as wahakura and Pēpi-Pods.

"Hāpai Te Hauora supports and commends the Hutt Valley DHB for allocating funds to kaupapa Māori services like Kokiri Marae. Actions like this are important, when data highlights that Māori babies are nearly seven times more likely to pass away as a result of SUDI than non-Māori. While inequities remain, services that take a by Māori, for Māori approach work for our communities and align with Te Tiriti o Waitangi. We encourage more DHB’s to look to similar and existing services within their regions in seeking to reduce the occurrence of SUDI nationally" says Fay Selby-Law.

Māori professionals in the SUDI sector have had significant impact in influencing the changing nature of bed-sharing in a way which is culturally considerate and meaningful. Wahakura (flax bassinets) are crafted by expert weavers across Aotearoa to allow for whānau to sleep close to their baby safely, with proximity during sleep promoting breastfeeding. Importantly, wahakura are environmentally sustainable and encourage cultural revitalisation.

"Health initiatives which incorporate Māori practices should be embraced by the health sector as Māori are more likely to engage in a system which reflects their belief systems. Change can occur through realising the strengths of Māori based interventions" says Janell Dymus, Tamaki Makaurau Māori Public Health Manager for Hāpai Te Hauora.