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Culture of low expectations continues at DHB

Katherine Rich - National Party Associate Health Spokeswoman

17 February 2005

Culture of low expectations continues at DHB

The culture of low expectations for Maori and Pacific Island children is alive and well at Hutt Valley DHB, says National's Associate Health spokeswoman, Katherine Rich.

Yesterday the health select committee heard from representatives of Hutt Valley DHB as part of the annual financial review process.

When asked by Mrs Rich whether the DHB had different expectations or targets for dental health outcomes for Hutt Valley kids depending on ethnicity, DHB chairman Peter Glensor's answer was a categorical "no".

Mrs Rich directed Mr Glensor to page 41 of the DHB's 2004/2005 Annual Plan, which noted that the DHB aims for 70% of Pakeha kids to be caries (tooth decay) free by age five, but only 40% of Maori children and 33% of Pacific Island children to be caries-free by the same age.

"Ethnicity should not be used as an excuse to set lower goals," says Mrs Rich.

"I am fully aware that there are disparities in caries levels amongst Pacific Island, Maori and non-Maori New Zealanders and by all means we should measure those.

"My point is that the goals or expectations for all Kiwi kids' dental care should be the same, regardless of their ethnicity," says Mrs Rich.

"It's the same with the DHB's approach to teenage pregnancy. The DHB target for the Maori teen pregnancy rate is less than 15 per 1000 births while the Pakeha target is set at less than 5 per 1000.

"To lower the benchmark because a child is of Maori or Pacific Island descent is another example of the soft bigotry of low expectations," says Mrs Rich.

ENDS

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