Paediatricians reveal shocking examples of child poverty

Long Lunch 20/07/2018
Photo: File.

Malnourishment, rheumatic fever, and rotting teeth are just some of the shocking symptoms that paediatricians have revealed they’ve seen in New Zealand.

Three paediatricians cited examples of the health consequences of child poverty in a quarterly medical magazine, after a report revealed that children and young people living in the most deprived areas are three times more likely to die than those in least deprived areas.

The paediatricians also witnessed matted hair on maggot-infested scalps and developmental delays.

Ian Powell, executive director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, told RadioLIVE that the examples given by paediatricians are “alarming”.

“New Zealand is an economically well-developed country, and this simply should not be happening here,” Mr Powell said.

According to Mr Powell, New Zealand’s health system is poorly resourced to respond to the health consequences caused by widespread poverty.

Poverty, he explains, has a “chilling impact on children, in particular”.

Mr Powell told RadioLIVE that “significant under-funding” of our public hospitals has been going on since 2010.

“Around $2 billion… has been sucked out of our District Health Boards. Now that’s an enormous amount that has a cumulative effect.”

Mr Powell cites Middlemore Hospital's under-funding.

Increasing levels of poverty combined with a decade of under-funding means less children are able to receive adequate care, he explains.

Nevertheless, Mr Powell applauds the Labour-led Government for its latest boost in health funding in the latest Budget.

“They have reversed the decline in reduced health funding… It’s reversed the trend of the previous eight years,” he said, though it’s not quite at the level that the country needs.

Housing, income disparity, and lack of health funding are all factors that contribute to these shocking cases, explains Powell. 

Listen to the full interview with Ian Powell above.

The Long Lunch with Wendyl Nissen, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.