News

So many sick Maori and Pacific children - Government must do more

Child Poverty Action Group says much more must be done, and quickly, to reduce New Zealand’s distressing rates of ill health amongst Maori and Pacific children which are rooted in poverty.

New data from the New Zealand Children’s Social Health Monitor shows while some positive trends have emerged, hospital admission rates for preventable diseases remain unacceptably high overall and are much higher for Pacific and Maori children.  In 2011 for every 100 European/Other children hospitalised there were 167 Māori children and 251 Pacific children hospitalised.

Child Poverty Action Group says much more must be done, and quickly, to reduce New Zealand’s distressing rates of ill health amongst Maori and Pacific children which are rooted in poverty.

New data from the New Zealand Children’s Social Health Monitor shows while some positive trends have emerged, hospital admission rates for preventable diseases remain unacceptably high overall and are much higher for Pacific and Maori children.  In 2011 for every 100 European/Other children hospitalised there were 167 Māori children and 251 Pacific children hospitalised.

CPAG acknowledges the government’s commitment to reducing rheumatic fever, increasing rates of immunisation and making primary care free after hours for children under 6 years, but says a far more comprehensive approach is needed to reduce these stark health inequalities.

Infectious and respiratory diseases are sensitive to the social and economic environment. When families face severely restricted incomes such as being on a benefit they suffer stress, poor diet, and are more likely to live in substandard or overcrowded housing.

CPAG Health Spokesperson, Professor Innes Asher said, “The government should increase the sustained assistance it gives low income families so they can provide for children now – the children cannot wait for more jobs with adequate wages to appear.”

CPAG is calling for greater investment in all children, including greater support for families receiving social security payments. “The poor state of children’s health is the most obvious sign that New Zealand is not investing enough in children's early years. Respiratory illnesses suffered in childhood can result in permanent damage with disability or even early death in adulthood. These children are tomorrow’s citizens – the future of our country,” said Dr Asher. “We need to create an environment in which every child can thrive; with adequate family income, housing, nutrition, education and access to health care.”