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Health experts call for real solutions

Jacinda Ardern
Social Development Spokesperson
Spokesperson for Children

5 September 2012

Health experts call for real solutions

When health professionals compare life for some New Zealanders as being like that of ‘the canary in a mine’ and relate tales of families buying food only when they can afford to, the Government must surely realise it has got its priorities terribly wrong, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson and Spokesperson for Children Jacinda Ardern says.

Ms Ardern, who spoke at this week’s Public Health Associations annual conference, said the community had a clear message for the Government.

“It was that we can’t continue to ignore the problem of child poverty. Our kids are growing up in the here and now and it's time to take action.

“The conference theme, Equity from the start- valuing our children, speaks volumes about the frustration felt by those working on the frontline with our most vulnerable kids.

“They see the results of those children getting a poor start in life, but they also see the potential to turn that around. And the preventative measures are within central Government’s power to change.

“It's time we addressed the causes, rather than expecting people on the frontline to pick up the pieces and pay the price of doing so.

“As one public health advisor pointed out, we can’t keep treating our poorest communities ‘like the canary in the mine’, letting them bear the brunt of tough times.

“Another highlighted the fact that food has become a discretionary item for many families struggling to cover the costs of housing and debt, leading to children going hungry and in some cases, not attending school as a result. Debt has equally forced some families into boarding houses.

“The conference was a demonstration of the passion, knowledge and expertise of our health professionals.

“Sadly it also underlined their enormous frustration with current thinking. Let’s address the problem - which we know is costing the country between $6 and $8 billion a year - and its causes now, for the good of our kids,” said Jacinda Ardern.

ENDS

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