Priorities for health policy

CPAG (Child Poverty Action Group) says that with a government election impending, it is crucial to bring in policies that have the wellbeing of all New Zealand’s children.

Without good health, our whānau and our country cannot flourish. 

With good policies, designed to ensure the wellbeing of children across all areas of life and all socio-economic levels, they can.

There are about 40,000 hospital admissions of children in New Zealand every year, from preventable illnesses linked to poverty and unhealthy housing. The number of such admissions has increased since 2000. If our policies were child-focussed and our systems were working well there would not be this unthinkable number of children admitted to hospital with illnesses due to inadequate living conditions. 

CPAG believes it is possible to halve the number of these hospital admissions, and in addition reduce the chances of preventable illness harming our tamariki in the long term. CPAG Health spokesperson Professor Innes Asher says “The shameful facts are very well known. What New Zealand needs is a comprehensive set of policies to lift all our children out of poverty and into healthy housing, with the basic health care they need at all times. 

“Poverty makes children sick. It may cause illnesses that affect their physical and mental health for their whole lives, decreasing their chances of good educational outcomes, and future success, as well as that of future generations,” says Dr Nikki Turner, CPAG health spokesperson.

CPAG’s health priority for the 2017 election is the introduction of measures to substantially reduce child hospital admissions for preventable illnesses.

These measures must address three key areas that desperately require remedial attention:

  • Inadequate basic healthcare services and education;

  • Income poverty and material hardship; and

  • A lack of affordable, healthy housing.

Addressing one area alone will have insufficient impact for children.

CPAG has compiled a comprehensive list of recommendations to improve health provision to support the reduction in children’s hospital admissions. Implementing these recommendations would ensure children’s health is paramount from conception through to adulthood.