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Oral Health Slowly Decaying In Far North

Hone Harawira; Member of Parliament for Te Tai Tokerau

Friday 9 December 2005

"Oral health in the Far North is about to get a whole lot worse" stated Hone Harawira today, at the announcement of the closure of a dental practice in Kaitaia. The closure of the clinic will leave only one dental practice in the Far North catering for a population of approximately 25,000.

"Oral health in the Far North is already appalling but the closure of this dental practice will see oral health reach a new low" said Mr Harawira. " My constituents have told me it already takes six weeks to see a dentist in Kaitaia, but closure of the second practice will produce undue strain on the only remaining service. Whanau members will be forced to travel to Kerikeri or further to see a dentist.

This will add extra travel costs onto an already expensive health service. It is becoming a health service only affordable by the wealthy". "The Northland District Health Board needs to do something immediately so that people of the Far North have affordable access to a dentist. It cannot afford to sit back and wait for a market correction" stated Mr Harawira.

"The irony of the situation for oral health in the Far North, is that it would seem that dentists prefer to live and work in places like Kerikeri (where there are seven dentists) rather than the Far North. Yet it would be interesting to know where the real issues for oral health lie".

"What we know is that as with the national pattern, dental health is poorer in the more socio-economically deprived areas within Te Tai Tokerau. We also know that Maori children in Te Tai Tokerau have poorer dental health than the region's population as a whole". "The DHB should meet immediately with key stakeholders to sort this out" stated Mr Harawira.

ENDS

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