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Commissioner calls more spending on child health

Children's Commissioner calls for more spending on child health

Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro is calling for a greater percentage of vote health to go to New Zealand children.

In an address to the Women¹s Hospitals and Children¹s Hospitals Australasia being held in Queensland today, Dr Kiro said that in the 2001/2002 financial year an estimated more than one billion ($1,044 million) was allocated for health services for children aged under 18 years in New Zealand.

Dr Kiro says this spending equates to 14 percent of vote health, despite the fact that children under 18 years made up 27 percent of the population in 2001/2002.

“Moving just a tiny fraction of spending on adults into spending on children and youth could make an important difference to their health status.”

Dr Kiro is especially concerned about under funding of mental health services for youth and says this country faces problems with youth suicide, unplanned early pregnancy, youth alcohol misuse and youth mental health.

New Zealand also has high rates of childhood infectious disease by international standards, with admission rates for pneumonia three to ten times higher than those reported in other countries, Dr Kiro says. She notes rates of rheumatic fever are also high for a developed country, resulting in a large burden of heart disease.

The Children¹s Commissioner says this country also needs to address its high rate of the serious respiratory condition, bronchiectasis. Dr Kiro says this disease, which is long term lung-damage resulting from untreated infection, is considered uncommon in developed country but a large number of cases have been reported among Auckland children.

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