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Children With Arthritis In Dire Straits

26 August 2004

Children With Arthritis In Dire Straits

The plight of children with arthritis in New Zealand is of extreme concern, says New Zealand First health spokesperson Barbara Stewart.

“At any one time there are approximately 800 young patients who require the services of a paediatric rheumatologist but there is only one appropriately qualified person in the whole country.

“This particular specialist travels from Auckland to Wellington to see patients on a regular basis. However children resident in the South Island who need treatment are faced with having to attend occasional clinics run by paediatricians and adult rheumatology specialists or make the long and expensive trip to Wellington,” said Mrs Stewart.

“When this particular specialist retires, as she will eventually wish to do, unless action is taken now we may find ourselves without a replacement. Paediatricians have to train for a further three years to become paediatric rheumatologists and currently this training has to be done overseas.

“There is already an acute shortage of rheumatologists to treat the adult population but as a country we should be ashamed to own up to treating children so negligently.

“We have asked the Minister how she plans to address this situation and we await her response with great interest,” said Mrs Stewart.


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