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Labour will act to address diseases of poverty

Labour will act to address diseases of poverty

Disturbing images of children with preventable skin infections in a documentary airing on television tomorrow night reflect the alarming rise in the diseases of poverty, something that must be addressed by the next government, Labour's Health spokesperson Grant Robertson says.

"In 2010 there were 5,000 more children admitted to hospital with preventable diseases- mainly skin infections and respiratory illnesses - than in 2007.

"Medical professionals describe these as diseases of poverty and rates are increasing.

"The documentary will undoubtedly shock many New Zealanders, but the reality is there is very real poverty in our country and it something that has be addressed urgently," Grant Robertson said.

"Reducing these avoidable admissions used to be a health priority, yet National has dumped it as a target. Labour will reinstate it.

"It is not good enough that the Minister of Health refuses to take responsibility for this critical issue, but is instead focused on slogans and colourful charts.

"Meanwhile our children's health is deteriorating and the risk of permanent damage to their health rising.

"The health and well-being of New Zealand kids is Labour's number one social priority, through the six-year Agenda for Children.

"A feature of that Agenda is to establish a measure of child poverty and work to eliminate it.

"We also plan to establish a Minister for Children, as the documentary maker calls for, and we have specific programmes to lift incomes, improve housing, extend paid parental leave and improve access to quality early childhood education," Grant Robertson said.

" In the Health area we will provide (and fund) 24/7 free access to primary healthcare for under sixes, bolster the B4School Checks (by including a mop up service for those who arrive at school not having had it), make dental care more affordable and accessible, and we will enrol all children with a well-child provider before birth."

"Now is past the time for action to address poverty among our children.

"Every New Zealander needs to play their part in making sure the health and wellbeing of our kids is our number one social priority. It is for Labour," Grant Robertson said.

Authorised by Grant Robertson, MP, Parliament Buildings, Wellington

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