National committed to giving children the best possible start in life

Thursday, July 14, 2016

National believes New Zealanders deserve high-quality health services and delivering better services remains our top priority.

At the same time, we’re focused on delivering better results for New Zealanders and their families. That’s why this Government has introduced a number of initiatives to give children the best possible start in life.

Around 780,000 children are benefitting from our policy of free GP visits and prescriptions, as well as free after-hours services for all children aged under 13.

To date almost 1.23 million influenza vaccines have been distributed across the country, protecting over a quarter of our population.

There has been a significant reduction in national rheumatic fever rates, dropping 45 per cent since 2012. This shows the $65 million investment the Government has made to prevent rheumatic fever is making a real difference to the young people, families and communities most at risk.

Good progress is also being made in encouraging primary schools to adopt the Health Promoting Schools programme.

One in three New Zealand school children are either obese or overweight, and more than a third are inactive. In 2014/15 11 per cent of all children aged 2-14 years were obese. The figures for Maori and Pacific children showed 15 per cent and 30 per cent respectively. That’s why the Government launched the Childhood Obesity Plan in October 2015.

Under the new target by December 2017 we expect that over 4,000 children a year - 95 per cent of children identified as obese - being supported to achieve a healthy weight.

The new Raising Healthy Kids health target will ensure four year olds identified as obese while getting their B4 School Check will be offered a referral to the services they and their family need to support healthy eating and activity.

Over 58,600 children have benefited from this free check in the last year. Of that, over 1,400 were referred on for support with healthy eating and activity.

Since the Plan was launched in October last year 94 new schools have signed up to the Health Promoting Schools programme.

We’re now one of the first countries in the OECD to have a target and a comprehensive evidenced based plan to tackle Childhood Obesity.

Focusing on results, we are working towards specific, measurable targets to improve the lives of families, particularly the most vulnerable.