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Government needs comprehensive plan to tackle child-health

30 March 2012: News from CPAG

Government needs comprehensive plan to tackle child-health

Child Poverty Action Group has called on the government to take immediate action to address New Zealand ’s distressing rates of child poverty and ill health.

An article in today’s NZ Medical Journal finds that New Zealand ’s investment in children is low by OECD standards. The report highlights poverty as a major driver of preventable illnesses amongst children.

Prof Innes Asher ONZM of CPAG said, “ New Zealand needs to take immediate action to address child poverty. While reports are written and committees deliberate, children are growing up in extremely deprived conditions. A year is not a long time for a government committee, but in the development of a child it is crucial. We know that childhood illnesses can have life-long consequences, including cardiovascular disease and mental illness in adult life.”

Prof Asher said, “This article contains a range of recommendations to improve children’s health. We agree with the New Zealand Medical Association that we all need to be part of the solution and that this needs a whole of government approach. We have a significant opportunity to change the future for our most vulnerable children.”

CPAG acknowledges the government has made a commitment to reducing rheumatic fever, increasing immunisation rates and making primary care free after hours for children under 6 years, but agrees with the NZMA that a far more comprehensive approach is needed.

Prof Innes Asher said, “Cherry-picking individual health issues is not enough to address this complicated problem. We need to create an environment in which every child can thrive; with adequate family income, housing, nutrition, education and access to health care.”

CPAG is currently appealing for donations to continue its long running human rights case in the courts. CPAG is challenging the government over the discriminatory In Work Tax Credit (IWTC) which is a government payment to help with the costs of children. CPAG argues the IWTC is unlawfully discriminatory as it is denied to families on benefits when parents lose their jobs or can’t find work or are unable to work. This denial keeps many children in poverty.


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