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More Support Needed to Reach Those in Need – Heart Kids NZ

March 26th, 2018

More Support Needed to Reach Those in Need – Heart Kids NZ

Heart Kids NZ says today’s findings from the Liggin’s Institute makes for disturbing but unsurprising reading.

Researchers have found that Maori and Pacific babies are more likely to die from a rare heart defect than European babies.

Heart Kids CEO Rob Lutter says it is yet another example of inequity in New Zealand’s health system. “We see this sort of inequity and bias all the time in our work which is not only concerning but also very sad.”

Neonatologist Elza Cloete, a PHD student and researcher at the Liggin’s Institute analysed data over a nine-year period and found that European babies (.59 per 1000) were more likely to have the congenital critical left heart obstruction (LHO) compared to Maori and Pacific rates (.31 and .27 per 1000).

However, the study also revealed 58 per cent of European babies born with LHO survived to one year, compared to 44 per cent of Maori babies and 41 per cent of Pacific babies.

Researchers believe there are a number of factors for the different outcomes between ethnicities, which include the ability to access antenatal care, cultural beliefs and health literacy. A possible healthcare provider bias was also another possible factor.

Heart Kids NZ is a not for profit organisation which supports children who’re born with congenital heart defects and their families, through life. It receives no government support and relies solely on donations and grants. Mr Lutter said every week in New Zealand 12 babies are born with a CHD, and these families need better support, especially within the Maori and Pacific community.

“Maori and Pacific Island families are a much smaller group accessing our pre-natal support, contacting us early on and attending our educational evenings and sadly we have limited resource to reach these at-risk groups. While we commend Starship for introducing a dedicated team to help monitor and support caregivers of babies born with LHO, we’ve still got a long way to go to address this issue,” says Mr Lutter.

“Losing a child is a traumatic and life changing event,” he added. “But it is a reality for many babies born with a congenital heart defect, so we need to be able to give them the best support available and access to the best services.


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