7 May 2004
New Zealand First health spokesperson Barbara Stewart is calling for an urgent national strategy to be put in place to address New Zealand’s appalling dental health statistics before we raise a generation of toothless children.
In Parliament yesterday Mrs Stewart asked the Minister of Health, Annette King, if she was concerned that over half of the five year-olds living in poorer communities have dental decay and what she intended to do to remedy this situation.
“The Minister admitted that while the district health boards aimed for annual dental treatment for all children it was not always available due to the decreasing dental therapist work force,” said Mrs Stewart.
“There is no point having free dental care for children if a significant number, especially those from poorer homes, cannot access the dental service they require at least once a year.
“High school children are further disadvantaged because dentists have found that contracts to treat adolescent patients are insufficiently funded to make it worth their while and many no longer offer this service.
“The consequences of failing to provide basic dental care for young people could be extremely serious and costly. The Government must ensure that DHB’s are able to meet the increasing demand for dental services,” said Mrs Stewart.