Plunket believes elements of this year’s budget acknowledge the need to invest in the early years, with a particular focus on increasing paid parental leave from 14 weeks to 18 weeks by 2016. Plunket welcomes the additional investment in families, with increasing parental tax credits and free GP visits and prescriptions for children up to the age of 13.
Plunket would still like to see paid parental leave increased to 26 weeks as a medium-term goal for future New Zealand families and Whānau.
Plunket CEO Jenny Prince says, “The real health gains in breastfeeding, attachment and bonding, community connectedness, family stability and economic security are evidenced where there is a longer period of time with a new baby”.
“This directly contributes to longer-term health outcomes for that child into adulthood”, says Mrs Prince.
All children have the right to a healthy start in life. The 2014 budget doesn’t provide a simple solution to address some of the health disparities suffered by those in poverty. However Plunket believes the $1.8 billion focus on health over four years has the potential to contribute to a reduction in diseases of poverty, thus resulting in improved health outcomes for children.
Poverty continues to hamper progress for all children. Plunket would like to see a coordinated plan to genuinely tackle child poverty using measureable child poverty targets.
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