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Children’s health falters

Children’s health falters through fragmented monitoring

Every Child Counts calls on the Government to invest in effective monitoring of child and youth health, in light of the findings of the Indicator Handbook for Monitoring the Health of New Zealand Children and Young People.

“The handbook, which was released today, highlights the reality that the health of our children and young people has been undermined by a very fragmented approach to monitoring,” said Every Child Counts spokesperson (and paediatrician), Dr Ian Hassall.

“We are playing a costly game if we ignore the contents of the report. It shows, for example, the impact of deprivation and poverty on a child’s health. Many conditions are two to six times higher for those living in socio-economically deprived areas and for Māori and Pacific children and young people.

“To correct these disparities, and improve child health overall, we need the indicators framework developed in the report to be picked up and used by government, district health boards, and other health providers. The data must be updated regularly and new policy processes developed so the information is used to shape policies and direct resources to children and young people.

Government would deliver better outcomes if their plans were systematically assessed for their impacts on children using the wealth of information in this report. Regular child impact assessments should be conducted in the early stages of policy and law development to ensure there are no unintended negative consequences for children, such as the increase in child poverty that arose from the benefit cuts and other policies of the 1990s.

“The release of the indicator handbook today, and the supporting literature review, is a welcome development. We congratulate the Paediatric Society and New Zealand Child and Youth Epidemiology Service for bringing together such important data into one publication. This is a much-needed resource for showing us the true state of child and youth health,” concluded Dr Hassall.

ENDS

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