26 Jun 2022

Report into health of NZ kids finds persistent inequalities linked to ethnicity and income

1:16 pm on 26 June 2022

A new report has found Pasifika children get rheumatic fever 140 times more often than Pākehā children.

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The report found respiratory conditions were the leading cause of hospitalisations for children. Photo: 123rf

Cure Kids' second annual State of Child Health Report also showed that Pasifika and Māori children experienced consistently higher rates of tooth decay.

Cure Kids' chief executive Frances Benge said more resources should be allocated to prevention, which she said always made the most economic sense.

"If we can stop kids from being admitted to hospital and the impact that that has on their whānau and long-standing ongoing impacts into adulthood, then obviously that's the best approach."

The report said persistent inequalities in health outcomes were linked to ethnicity and income, and health equity needed to be urgently prioritised by the government.

The researcher for the report, paediatrician Stuart Dalziel said prevention was just as important as treatment.

Professor Dalziel said a previous campaign had helped reduce cases of rheumatic fever, but they started rising again when the campaign ended.

"That was done a few years ago and when that campaign has eased off we've actually seen an increase in the rates again, and that's somewhat concerning."

Dalziel said Aotearoa must address the impacts of poverty on children.

The report also found that nearly half of all five-year-olds showed signs of tooth decay and that respiratory conditions were the leading cause of hospitalisations for children.

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