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Turner: Making children's health a priority

Turner: Making children's health a priority

The Wairarapa District Health Board's booklet on children's health is a step in the right direction, but first responsibility for a child's health lies with its parents and guardians, United Future's Judy Turner said today.

"The booklet in response to the region's child health crisis is a positive step, but more needs to be done to promote the role of parents and guardians who day to day ensure a child's safety and well-being, or otherwise," she said.

"We need to get parents and communities on board to empower them to step up to their role in ensuring their children's health remains a priority," Mrs Turner, United Future's family affairs spokeswoman, said.

"Whether it be setting up a safe home to prevent injuries, getting Plunket's advice on breastfeeding, taking children to screening services for glue ear or getting help with the everyday stresses which can lead to family violence, parents need to be encouraged and given the means and knowledge to look after their children."

Mrs Turner said that education on the region's statistics provides a much-needed wake-up call for families, but was surprised by the DHB's comment that it had no answers for why children suffered unusually high rates of unnecessary injuries and health problems.

"This Government has focussed on the mechanics of primary health care, setting up PHOs to provide affordable health care for families, but what we are missing is visible and positive leadership that keeps directing parents back to their part in the picture - that they are the gatekeepers of their children's wellbeing".

Mrs Turner commented that while she thought the Minister of Health, Annette King, should encourage similar education initiatives on the part of DHBs, she should take responsibility for monitoring DHB progress towards achieving national child and youth health strategies.

"The Paediatrics Society highlighted in August last year that the implementation of child and health strategies by DHBs has been a mixed bag around the country.

"Unicef noted in their report Making New Zealand Fit for Children that although some aspects of the Child Health Strategy had been implemented, 'there has not been a comprehensive and transparent implementation plan'.

"The Minister said she would ask her ministry to investigate why some boards were not performing as well as others in August last year. We've nothing since.

"If we are to ask families to take up their role, we need to ensure that DHBs are providing the best services available for them to access."

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