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New Zealand Children’s Social Health Monitor 2011 Update

New Zealand Children’s Social Health Monitor 2011 Update


Embargoed until Midnight Sunday 28th August 2011

The NZCYES latest release today continues to show the poor health of NZ children, but also some hopeful early signs of improvement.

In New Zealand, children and young people living in more deprived areas experience significantly worse health outcomes across a range of measures (e.g. infant mortality, hospital admissions for infectious and respiratory diseases, non-accidental injuries). Each year, these measures are updated and presented through the New Zealand Children’s Social Health Monitor.

Dr Nikki Turner, The University of Auckland, says that “When you compare children’s hospital admissions for socioeconomically sensitive medical conditions (mainly infectious and respiratory diseases) in 2010, with those in 2007, this equates to just under 5,000 extra hospital admissions each year.”

Previous updates described worsening figures for hospital admissions for infectious and respiratory diseases since the onset of the recession; this most recent update however indicates that while these admissions are still increasing, the rate of increase appears to be slowing, with possible early signs of improvement for some groups (e.g. Pacific children). Associate Professor Cindy Kiro, Massey University, Auckland, said that "the key issues here are to realise that these are preventable admissions and deaths - so we can do something about it. We know that those social and economic factors which affect child health also continue to affect their adult health. We must continue to monitor and better understand the link between these phenomenon and our obligation to act to reduce disease and early deaths."

These potential improvements will be driven by many inter-related factors. These may include the healthy homes initiatives (insulating and heating improvements), and better uptake of immunisations, (including the pneumococcal vaccine). These two preventative steps, coupled with an increased access to primary care in many areas may be part of the reason behind such improvements.

There is still a clear gap between groups of children based upon areas of social deprivation. For example, hospital admissions for injuries arising from the assault, neglect or maltreatment of children: for every admission from an area of low deprivation there are more than 5 from a high deprivation area.

The Monitor remains an important measure to monitor the health of New Zealand children. Drs Kiro and Turner are members of the Te Tuia Well Child Network (Universities of Auckland, Otago, Massey and AUT Social Policy)- a consortium of academics and service deliverers interested in child outcomes. (www.wellchild.org.nz/46)

ends

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