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Healthy teeth, healthy smiles, healthy teenagers

28 March 2001 Media Statement

Healthy teeth, healthy smiles, healthy teenagers

Health Minister Annette King says the Government is fulfilling its election commitment to improve access to free dental services for adolescents by sending dentists new funding offers with the support of the New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA).

Mrs King said the new funding package confirmed service quality requirements, and paid for increased population coverage, including provision of services to hard-to-reach groups.

"We have also increased the coverage so that all adolescents up to 18 years are eligible for funded oral health care. This provides cover for those young people who have left school or training institutions."

Mrs King said it was too early to quantify how much the extra services would cost, but $6 to $10 million of new money would be involved. “This package takes a population focus approach. Dentists will be paid in a variety of new ways. This will encourage dentists to actively manage the dental care needed by adolescents.

“This approach has been the result of a new spirit of cooperation. We have worked with the oral health sector over the last year on these proposals. The NZDA fully supports the package and has written a letter of support to dentists.

“I am determined to address the problem of falling adolescent dental cover. In one school I visited in South Auckland in 1999 only 7 percent of teenagers were enrolled.

“Our goal is to move from the current 63 percent national coverage to 85 percent coverage in the next five years. National’s failure demonstrates that we can only achieve this goal by working together in cooperation with the dental sector”.

ENDS

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