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55,000 Four Year Old Given Health Checks

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
55,000 Four Year Old Given Health Checks

Over 55,000 four year olds have now received B4School health checks - 40,000 of them in the past 12 months.

"The Government spends $9 million each year on B4School Checks, but last year the programme was performing so poorly, Health Minister Tony Ryall warned DHBs he would stop the programme if the number of checks didn't increase.

"DHBs stepped up after that and overall, they have delivered this important health check to approximately three times more young children this year than at the same time last year. Now we are making great progress."

"We are fixing the health system by making sure children are checked for their health and development so they can get off to a good start when they begin school."

The B4School check is the eighth and final Well Child assessment and includes height and weight measurements, hearing and vision testing, a check of a child's oral health and health and behavioural questionnaires.

Mr Ryall says 16,000 children - approximately one in three children checked - had previously undetected health or development issues which were picked up as a result of the check and referred on to a GP or a specialist for further help.

"Some of these issues are very hard to pick up without such a check by a health professional - but sorting them means most children's ability to learn is greatly improved."

"For example, one little girl whose kindy was concerned about her developmental delays was found to have both vision and hearing problems as a result of her B4School Check. She now has glasses and a hearing aid and her teacher says she is ahead at school."

"Another little girl unbeknown to her paediatric nurse mother could hardly see out of one eye. She has now been fitted with a contact lens and early detection means there is a good chance her eye will improve. "

"Many more children have had grommets or glasses fitted, paid a visit to a dentist or were immunised as a result of their B4School check."

"I am advised their parents are relieved and enthusiastic about the programme because now their little ones are healthier and doing well at school," Mr Ryall says.

DHBs are expected to build overall programme coverage in their areas so that all four year olds are checked. They are also expected to provide checks for children in high deprivation areas.

"More than 15,000 children from poorer families have now been checked - that's around ten thousand more than were checked in the first year of this programme but DHBs will be expected to do much better with this target next year."

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