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Public Health Association Gives Budget 7 Out of 10

Public Health Association Gives Budget 7 Out of 10
18 May 2006

The Public Health Association (PHA) is applauding the Government’s commitment to health in the budget, but says the poorest children are still missing out.

PHA Director Dr Gay Keating says the PHA gives the budget a seven out of ten.

She says that the raft of health measures featured in the budget - cheaper doctors’ visits; funding for obesity; investment in child health, improving the health of older people – will prevent many people from becoming sick in the first place.

“We are delighted to see Government has recognised that increased funding needs to go into prevention, because that is the only way we are going reduce demand on hospital services.

“For example, Ministry of Health figures for 2002/2003 show that one in eight adults needed to see a GP in the last 12 months, but did not see one. The most common reason given was ‘costs too much’. Cheaper doctors visits will enable people to go to the doctor when they first need to, not wait until they are really sick.”

However Dr Keating says she is disappointed the Government has chosen not to extend the Working for Families package to parents who are on benefits.

“There is nothing in this budget for the poorest children – those with parents or caregivers out of work. Those families will fall even further behind – and it is the health of children that suffers.”

She says not increasing the taxation on tobacco products is another missed opportunity.

“The extra funding for obesity is fantastic, and much needed. I challenge the Government to provide an equal funding boost next year to tobacco control. One way of doing this would be to increase taxation on tobacco products – which in itself encourages people to quit – and use this funding for smokefree programmes. Around 5000 New Zealanders die every year because of tobacco use – decent funding for this area would drastically reduce demand for health services.

Dr Keating says that, overall, budget 2006 is socially-responsible and compassionate.

“There is no doubt that its provisions will improve the health of New Zealanders.”

ENDS

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