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Protecting our most vulnerable citizens

Plunket focuses on providing the best support for families and that includes working to improve policy and law which affect children and families/whānau. This advocacy is an important part of what we do.

In July Plunket made a joint oral submission with advocacy coalition Every Child Counts to the Health Select Committee’s inquiry into preventing child abuse and improving children's health outcomes. The purpose of the inquiry is to find what practical health and social interventions can be made from before birth until three years of age.

“Evidence shows that those first three years are critical in a child’s development”, says Plunket CEO Jenny Prince.

“Deprivation during this time has been show to result in poor outcomes in adulthood. Economic investment during the first three years will have pay back throughout life in health, education and social outcomes”, she says.

New Zealand currently has one of the lowest levels of public investment in young people in the OECD. We rank 28 of 30 nations for giving children a good start, based on measures such as overcrowding in homes and infant mortality.

“We are looking for leadership from Parliament and Government to support a societal attitude shift so the needs of children and those caring for them are prioritised in policy and fiscal decision making, as well as in communities and families” says Mrs Prince.

One practical solution Plunket is urging Government to consider is a national child health database to record all the health care a child receives from birth, including GP visits, well child contacts, immunisations, specialist care and hospital admissions.

A national database would enable better identification of those children missing out on the services and care they are entitled to. It would also improve sharing of information between providers so more support can be offered to families who need it most, and all children get the best start in life.

“Evidence tells us there are no quick fixes”, says Mrs Prince. “There are a complex range of contributing factors to the state of our children’s health and wellbeing. We need to concentrate effort on ensuring that families have the support they need to safely care for and raise New Zealand’s future generations”.

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