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Health Monitor highlights health inequities - Every Child Counts

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The latest update to the Children’s Social Health Monitor highlights the persistent health inequities experienced by Maaori and Pasifika children, and reinforces the need for government targets to improve child health, says Every Child Counts.

"The data released today (10 December) shows that when government sets targets and invests resources to address specific child health issues, improvement is possible. While there have been increases in a number of socio-economically sensitive diseases (acute upper respiratory tract infections and viral infections of unspecified site, skin infections, dermatitis and eczema), there has been a slowing in hospital adminissions for diseases that are sensitive to the new pneumococcal vaccine (ear infections and bacterial/non-viral pneumonia). These admissions have dropped as the government has been working to achieve the target of 85 percent coverage in eight month old babies by July 2013," says Deborah Morris-Travers, Manager of Every Child Counts.

"Perhaps what is most concerning about the latest data is that the health system still has to respond to 36,409 hospital admissions that result from socio-economically sensitive condititions, and admission rates are much higher for Pasifika, and then Maaori children, than for European/Other children. Concern about these persistent health inequities has been raised as high up as the UN Committee on the Rights of Children.

"With 27 percent of Maaori children and 40 percent of Pasifika children living in poverty it should be no surprise that these children are disproportionately represented in hospital admissions for poverty-related disease.

"Children living in poverty and deprivation experience compromised health because of cold, damp housing, poor nutrition, inadequate clothing, and lack of access to healthcare, including prescriptions.

"However, we know that through government targets that are supported by plans and resources, it is possible to stem the rise in socio-economically diseases. We therefore encourage the government to set targets that address the health inequities for Maaori and Pasifika children, improve housing, ensure access to nutritious food, and increase the accessibility of health services.

"Investing in child health should be a priority for the government and for all New Zealanders," concludes Ms Morris-Travers.

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