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New committee to examine child and youth mortality

27 September 2001 Media Statement

New committee to examine child and youth mortality

Health Minister Annette King has welcomed the establishment of a new committee, which will focus on preventing the deaths of young New Zealanders.

The Child and Youth Mortality Committee will provide information and advice to the Minister on child and youth mortality by reviewing deaths of people aged between four weeks and 24 years. Provision was made to set up the committee under the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act last year.

"The committee aims to reduce child and youth mortality by providing information that identifies ways of preventing deaths through improving systems and processes.

"New Zealand's decline in infant mortality between 1960 and the late 1990s was 3.2 percent, the slowest decline in the OECD. The OECD average for the period was 4.2 percent. Recent figures indicate better progress, but we still need improvement.

"The committee will also develop strategic plans and practical steps to reduce morbidity and mortality. For several years child advocacy groups and child health professionals have recommended development of a child mortality review system."

Mrs King said committee members were chosen for expertise in various aspects of child and youth health. "We are fortunate to have extremely well-qualified people, with a variety of experience and research backgrounds. Besides the agencies represented on the committee, two permanent positions will be held by officials from the Ministry of Health and Department of Child Youth and Family Services."

Professor Barry Taylor, professor of paediatrics at Otago University and president of the Paediatric Society of New Zealand, had agreed to chair the committee, Mrs King said. Other members are Carol Everard, Dr Ian Hassall, Dr Patrick Kelly, Shannon Pakura, Dr Teuila Percival, Amster Reedy, Dr David Tipene-Leach, Dr Pat Tuohy, Dr Peter Watson, Beth Wood and Dr Jane Zuccollo.

Other agencies consulted about nominations were the Ministry of Youth Affairs, the Commissioner for Children's Office, the Ministry of Women's Affairs, the Ministry of Social Policy, the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs and Te Puni Kokiri.

Mrs King said the national committee would consult existing local and regional child mortality committees once it was established.


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