The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) says that the 2018 report from the Child Poverty Monitor shows that one in five children in Aotearoa are suffering unacceptable levels of hardship and deprivation.
“Like our Prime Minister, we want Aotearoa New Zealand to be the best place in the world for children,” said Dr Jeff Brown RACP NZ President and a paediatrician based in Palmerston North. “Are we doing enough to create this best place, to make this the norm for our kids?”
The RACP is concerned at the report’s findings, which show persistent inequities in hospitalisation, mortality, education outcomes and food security. Children living with higher levels of social and economic deprivation and hardship are more at risk of being hospitalised for a respiratory condition. Children living in poverty are less likely to enjoy a nutritious diet than children living in areas of greater social and economic advantage.
“We know that kids living in food-insecure households are less likely to have fruit, vegetables and cereals to eat every day. Around 10 per cent of the kids living with the greatest levels of deprivation will go without these foods a lot,” Dr Brown said.
“Our children need to have access to foods that will allow them to grow up healthy, be able to learn at school, and participate in society. The impact of hardship and poverty in childhood has the potential to affect their health and wellbeing as adults.”
The RACP is building on its 2017 #MakeItTheNorm campaign, which called for healthy housing, good work and whānau wellbeing to become “normal” in New Zealand. “We see that these things are increasingly not normal for so many families.” “Kids don’t exist in isolation from their families. Child and youth wellbeing is whānau wellbeing.
What can we as a society and as a nation do about it?” The RACP is looking at progress under the current government towards ensuring all whānau enjoy warm and dry housing; work is properly remunerated and free from hazards; and whānau enjoy healthy environments and improved access to mental health support in primary care.
“The RACP will be releasing a series of report cards looking at how we are tracking as a nation in making healthy housing, good work and whānau wellbeing the norm in Aotearoa NZ,” Dr Brown said. “These will identify where gains have been made, and where we need to do better.”
Information on the #MakeItTheNorm campaign can be found on the RACP website, at https://www.racp.edu.au/fellows/resources/new-zealand-resources/new-zealand-electionstatement-2017