New Zealandâ€™s largest provider of services to support the wellbeing of children under five is asking the government to consider 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.
Such a database will help identify the 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, says Plunket chief executive Jenny Prince.
â€œWe need to concentrate effort on ensuring that families have the support they need to safely care for and raise New Zealandâ€™s future generationsâ€
New Zealand has one of the lowest levels of public investment in young people in the OECD.
The country ranks 28 of 30 nations for giving children a good start, based on measures such as overcrowding in homes and infant mortality.
Jenny has welcomed the Health Select Committeeâ€™s inquiry into preventing child abuse and improving children’s health outcomes. The inquiry aims to find what practical health and social interventions can be made from before birth until the child is three years of age.
In a joint oral submission to the Select Committee today, with advocacy coalition Every Child Counts, Plunket encouraged all political parties to have an investment approach to children.
â€œEvidence shows that those first three years are critical in a childâ€™s developmentâ€, says Jenny. â€œDeprivation during this time results in poor outcomes in adulthood. Economic investment during the first three years will have pay back throughout life in health, education and social outcomes.â€
â€œThe health and wellbeing of our children is not just an issue for politicians though, itâ€™s an issue for all New Zealanders. Focusing on giving our children the best start in life is vital in helping us create a better society.
â€œWe 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 familiesâ€ she says.