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“It’s unacceptable to see that despite the work and investment being undertaken in health to reduce disparities between Maori and non-Maori, our Maori tamariki are still dying and suffering from diseases at a higher rate than others in this country.”
Associate Minister of Health Tariana Turia commented today on the release of the second of three reports in the Ministry of Health’s Te Ohonga Ake series on Maori child health. This second report focuses on the health status of Maori children and young people.
“While progress is being made and there is evidence of reductions in hospital admissions for meningococcal disease, infant mortality and some types of injuries, in other areas there has been little change. For example hospital admissions have continued to increase for acute rheumatic fever, rheumatic heart disease, serious skin infections, asthma and acute upper respiratory tract infections, pneumonia and whooping cough. Reports like this are a sober reminder about how much there is still to do, to achieve the progress we need.”
In March this year, the first report released described the health of Māori children and young people with chronic conditions and disabilities. In 2013, a third report is due on the determinants of Māori child and youth health.
“While action is being undertaken in a number of areas to address disparities highlighted in the report, it’s obvious that it’s not enough. For example more work needs to be done across the health sector to reduce sudden unexplained death in infancy (SUDI) amongst our whānau. The rate of death amongst our infants is still too high. There is almost a six fold disparity in SUDI between Maori and non-Maori infants.
“The report also shows that between 1996 and 2005, Maori children were admitted to hospital with acute rheumatic fever ten times higher than for the rest of the population. Yes we have invested $24m, over five years to reduce rheumatic fever rates through detection, but we need to be vigilant on all fronts. Otherwise families still living in damp, cold or over-crowded homes will continue to be at risk of highly infectious diseases.
“My expectation is that all government agencies work in collaboration with health professionals at all levels. Our health cannot be dealt with in isolation of issues like education, employment and housing.”
All three reports are being produced by the New Zealand Child and Youth Epidemiology Service of Otago University and will be available on their website and at www.health.govt.nz.