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What About Your Promises, Labour?

What About Your Promises, Labour?

Friday 22 Aug 2003 Dr Muriel Newman Press Releases -- Health


ACT New Zealand Associate Health Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today accused Prime Minister Helen Clark of hiding from the `Bad Blood' issue, and asked why Health Minister Annette King has not yet fulfilled her earlier promise to address this problem.

"By 1989, many OECD countries had begun screening blood donations. Then Health Minister Helen Clark knew this, yet New Zealand's screening process did not begin until 1992 - making us the second-to-last OECD country to do so," Dr Newman said.

"The Crimes Act states that `it is a crime to knowingly endanger the life, safety or health of the public or any individual'. Having worked with these victims, and knowing the impact on their families, I believe Ms Clark must explain why she refused to fund Hepatitis C screening programmes while being aware of the risks.

"Around 700 New Zealanders contracted Hepatitis C from bad blood products before screening began. In response, the then government offered compensation to victims who discovered they'd been infected between August 1990 and July 1992 - there was no provision for those who contracted the disease in the late 1980s.

"Further, because Hepatitis C can take years to show itself, we now have victims who did not realise they had contracted it at the time compensation was available. That does not mean they can be ignored. This problem stemmed from Labour, and Labour must fix it - especially as the Minister responsible now heads the party.

"But this does not rest just with the Prime Minister. During her election campaign, Ms King promised victims fair compensation if she was elected. Yet, once in office, she again excluded victims from the late 1980s.

"Whether Ms King and Ms Clark like it or not, this is their problem. Ms Clark, for overseeing the health system that failed these victims, and Ms King for promising to solve the problem. It is completely unfair that these people, who contracted the illness through the health system, are not being looked after by the Government," Dr Newman said.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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