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A Healthy Start: Q & A and Backgrounder

Q & A


What is Well Child?

Well Child are screening, surveillance, education and support services offered to all New Zealand children and their family from birth to five years. Providers deliver an integrated package of care that incorporates the key public health concepts of supportive environments, disease prevention, and health promotion.

How many children will benefit from the extension of core visits from 6.5 to 8?

All under five year olds will benefit, and so will their parents. This policy brings the number of core visits available for every child to the level recommended by an expert advisory group.

Will children only be eligible for a total of 8 visits?

All children will have access to 8 core visits, but will be eligible for additional visits depending on factors such as whether the parent is a first time parent or the child requires additional support.

Who offers Well Child services?

Approximately 85% of eligible infants and children are enrolled with Plunket; the rest with other DHB funded Well Child providers.


Will all children be eligible for the school ready check up?

The School Ready check up will be available for all children. It will extend the school checks available in some districts, and build on some existing programmes.

What will the school ready check up involve?

The School Ready Check Up is a health check that will include early detection of a range of possible health and developmental problems, vision and hearing screening, and immunisation checks.

Who will provide the school ready check up?

The School Ready Check Up will be able to be carried out by a variety of providers, including Primary Health Organisations, public health and community based health workers, with the assistance of Vision Hearing Technicians.

What are the benefits of a check up such as this?

This check will enable a child’s health provider and parents to identify early any health or developmental issues which may have an impact on their learning. It will ensure that relevant services can be provided to children and families who may need it.


Who will be eligible for this test?

This test will be provided for all newborns, ideally before 3 months of age, based on the experience of programmes currently running in Waikato and Gisborne.

Is a hearing test on newborns reliable?

Yes. Permanent congenital hearing impairment can be identified at or around the time of birth using safe, objective testing.

What are the benefits of providing a hearing test at such an early stage of a child’s development?

Hearing impairment is a significant contributor to the national burden of disease in New Zealand. An estimated 2.38-3.0/1000 children are born with permanent congenital hearing loss.

Despite international recommendations on detecting deafness before 3 months of age, and treating before 6 months, New Zealand’s average age of detection is around 42 months.

It is possible to minimise the effects of hearing impairment by detecting deafness early, and providing appropriate interventions and support. Available interventions include: hearing aids and cochlear implants, signed communication as well as a wide range of educational, social and financial support and assistance for the child and family.


Labour is committed to giving children the best start in life, and keeping children healthy. Labour has:

- Invested heavily in Primary Health Care and continued to ensure low cost doctors visits for children under six

- Supported the roll out of child specific health programmes through Primary Health Organisations

- Provided free meningococcal meningitis immunisation for all 6 week to 19 year olds. Two million doses have now been delivered.

- Developed the National Immunisation Register, which focuses on information sharing between health care providers to assist with follow up

- Invested $6.4 million in primary prevention activities such as Healthy Eating, Healthy Action, and Health Promoting schools

- Increased its support for programmes such as Well Child, which provides screening, surveillance, education and support services for New Zealand children and their family and whānau from birth to five years.

Labour will continue to ensure all young New Zealanders have a healthy start in life by:

- Extending the entitlement to Well Child checks for pre-school children from 6.5 core visits to 8 visits per child

- Implementing a free “School Ready” check up for all children before they start school, which will include access to immunisations, hearing and vision checks

- Providing all newborns with a free hearing test

- Continuing to provide free maternity services

- Ensuring all New Zealand hospitals become baby friendly hospitals by the end of 2006

- Continuing to provide affordable access for children to primary health care and medicines through Primary Health Organisations

- Increasing our support of community agencies who:

o Provide parent support through programmes like Well Child

o Coordinate services to families, including through one-stop centres

- Funding Healthline, a 24 hours, seven days a week, free health information service


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