Child Health

Health + Wellbeing of Kiwi kids ranked 38th out of 41 developed countries

The rates of dental disease, respiratory conditions, skin infections and rheumatic fever are too high among Kiwi kids compared to other developed nations. 

That's according to Cure Kids latest state of child health report ... which also found that hospitalisation rates are continuing to increase with respiratory illness the leading cause of acute admissions.

It paints a bleak picture for some children, especially with growing pressure on the healthcare system. 

Cure Kids CEO Frances Benge joined Wilhelmina Shrimpton on Wednesday evening to talk more about the report and what the results mean for Kiwis.

Benge told Wilhelmina that unfortunately Cure Kids hasn't seen much change in this second report compared to their first one.

"It's really disappointing to see that skin infections are still making up nearly four percent of hospital admissions, Māori and Pacific children are still up to 140 times more often hospitalised, respiratory conditions are still the leading cause of acute admissions and then we've got children with the highest rate of hospitalisations with tooth extractions."

The most concerning aspect of all this, she said, is the common theme through it all is children living in deprivation or with inequity.

UNICEF recently ranked the health and wellbeing of New Zealand children 38th out of 41 developed countries, putting us behind countries like Bulgaria, Chile and Mexico.

"No offence to them but we are a well developed country and are resource rich so why is this particular sector really doing so poorly in terms of health."

Benge suggests a collaborative research approach to identify the things that make some kids more vulnerable.

What we need to understand, she told Wilhelmina, is what is going on beyond deprivation, beyond housing and beyond all of those things that mean some children are more vulnerable than others.

"Only research will be able to identify what are the risk factors, how do we diagnose, how do we prevent, how do we treat and care for our children.

"So that we can work in communities, get greater access to primary care so we can intervene, so that these kids aren't hospitalised."

The families who can't afford to take time off work for minor illnesses or afford initial care face tough challenges because often, more serious illnesses can come as a result of the lack of initial treatment.

She told Wilhelmina that the limited resources available to the general health system means a lot of these 'smaller' or less urgent issues aren't prioritised, compounding the problem.

Listen to the full interview between Cure Kids CEO Frances Benge and Wilhelmina Shrimpton above.

You can also download the full interview on the Lloyd Burr Live podcast, and listen on the go. Check it out on the rova app or wherever you get your podcasts.