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NZ children missing out on the basics

Tuesday, March 9, 2004 Press release

NZ children missing out on the basics

Many New Zealand children are missing out on the basics of adequate food, housing, clothing and health care, according to Children's Commissioner Dr Cindy Kiro.

In a presentation to doctors and nurses at Hutt Hospital's Grand Round, Dr Kiro called for more collaboration between the various sectors responsible for children to turn around some of this country's poor child health statistics.

Dr Kiro says the New Zealand reality is that 16 percent of households with children have an annual income of $20,000 or less.

"The 2001 census shows that there are more than 20,000 children living in dwellings without heating. In a world of limited financial resources, first priority should be given to allocating resources to children."

Harmful social conditions seriously affect health outcomes for children, according to Dr Kiro. She points out hospital admission rates for pneumonia are ten times higher than those reported for other comparable countries.

Dr Kiro says the United Nations has highlighted four major areas of concern for this country, including youth suicide, unplanned early pregnancy, youth alcohol misuse and youth mental health.

"Mental health services appropriate to youth are generally underfunded by DHBs and this lack of services contributes to serious health problems."

She says youth participants at a major recent youth symposium made a strong call for access to free health and dental services to age 18 and for health services to be available in schools.

ENDS

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