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Study highlights need for greater investment in children

20 February 2012: News from CPAG

Study highlights need for greater investment in children

Child Poverty Action Group is calling on the government to make greater efforts to invest in children, particularly disadvantaged children, following the publication of a research paper showing New Zealand has unusually high rates of infectious diseases. The paper, published in The Lancet, finds rising rates of infectious diseases, with clear ethnic and socioeconomic health inequalities having increased substantially in the last 20 years, particularly for the most deprived Maori and Pacific people.

CPAG spokesperson Dr Nikki Turner says that New Zealand is an outlier among developed countries.

“Hospital admissions for infectious diseases have risen from approximately one fifth of all admissions in the early 1990s to now being more than one quarter of all admissions in the 2004-2008 period. In contrast most developed countries are seeing trends of infectious diseases rates dropping. Young children consistently have the highest rates of infectious diseases, especially lower respiratory tract infections, skin infections and diarrhoeal infections. Young children have admission rates 5 times higher than adolescents and adults.”

CPAG is concerned that as the government seeks to economise by cutting social services, the health of vulnerable young children will continue to deteriorate.

“Poverty has a strong effect on health, and is most marked for those in the greatest poverty. Maori and Pacific children have double the risk of being admitted for infectious diseases, and this has been increasing over time.

“As the government is consulting on vulnerable children, this research very clearly shows that poverty, poor housing and lack of access to healthcare are the biggest risk factors for children. The clear increase in inequalities as measured both by socioeconomic markers and ethnicity is of significant concern, and needs to be addressed urgently,” says Dr Turner.


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