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Help for low and middle income New Zealanders

Public Health Association welcomes help for low and middle income New Zealanders

The government announcement that budget 2004 can give priority to low and middle income families will help improve the health of New Zealand's most deprived children, according to the Public Health Association.

The PHA says the public health sector welcomes the announcement in today's Budget Policy Statement that Budget 2004 will significantly increase direct income support and incentives to move from welfare benefits into paid employment, and will make housing more affordable for low-income families and single adults. Director Dr Gay Keating says the PHA has strong expectations that Budget 2004 will result in real and improved living standards for families living in poverty.

Dr Keating says the government has clearly recognised the long-term social and economic costs of children being brought up in poverty.

"The fact that the government's own data shows a third or our children are living in poverty should shame New Zealanders."

Dr Keating says many health professionals have become increasingly uneasy about the rising number of children being hospitalised for avoidable third-world type conditions associated with poverty. She says the fact that the skin infection cellulitis is the third highest cause of children's hospital admissions in Auckland is alarming.

The fact that a recent Ministry of Health report shows 22 percent of New Zealand children live in households that can't afford to eat properly should also be a wakeup call to this country, Dr Keating says.

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