Maori Children Miss Out

  • Bill English

Health Minister Bill English said today the traditional publicly funded health system had failed generations of Maori children.

"The romantic view that we used to have a fine public-funded health system is a myth. The fact is Maori and Maori children were not well served by the health system in the past," he said.

"We haven't been able to achieve relatively simple objectives like immunising most Maori children.

"I'm keen to provide opportunities for Maori to change the record by funding their new ways of providing health care for Maori children.

"I am pleased today to be able to launch this video, pamphlet and poster which are specifically designed to inform Maori parents about immunisation," Mr English said.

"These resources have been developed with Maori people to ensure they work for Maori. We have to get messages that Maori parents will take notice of to them.

"A 1992 study showed the rate of immunisation for Maori children was 42 percent compared to 61 percent for non-Maori children.

"That is far too low. The Government aims to lift that rate to 95 percent for all children by the year 2000. We can only achieve that goal if parents are convinced of the benefits," he said.

"These resources will help Maori health workers as they visit Marae and Kohanga Reo. The main messages the health workers want to get across are that immunisation protects children from nine serious diseases, that it is free and that it is never too late to immunise.

"A video for Pacific Island parents is currently in production so the same messages can be conveyed to those communities," Mr English said.