Supporting our young people’s health so they can thrive at school and in the community is a focus for this Government.
More children are being immunised and receiving health checks before they start school. Latest results show 93 per cent of eight-months-olds received their full immunisations and a record 92 per cent of eligible four-year-olds received a free B4 School Check, which identifies and addresses any potential health or developmental problems at an early stage. Meanwhile rheumatic fever rates continue to fall dramatically with a 24 per cent decrease in first episode hospitalisations since 2012.
On 1 July, all children aged under-13 became eligible for free GP visits, after-hours services, and free prescriptions. The uptake of the scheme has been fantastic. Two months after its launch, 98 per cent of general practices across the country offer free GP visits, covering 99 per cent of children under-13.
Older children’s health will be boosted by a new plan to improve the National Human Papillomavirus (HPV) immunisation programme. The plan includes improving connections between public health nurses and primary care, so girls who aren’t vaccinated at school are offered a vaccination by their family doctor. A new performance target of having 75 per cent of eligible girls fully immunised by the end of 2017 will help track improvements in immunisation rates.
Improving HPV immunisation coverage will have significant long-term benefits for New Zealand women, including a reduction in the incidence of HPV infections - the cause of 70 per cent of cervical cancers.
More young people are getting faster access to specialist help for alcohol and drug problems so they can live healthy, addiction-free lives. Last year, 85 per cent of youth were seen within three weeks of contacting a youth alcohol and drug service - a 12 per cent increase compared to 2012 and beating the target of 80 per cent. Meanwhile, 94 per cent of young people were treated in between three to eight weeks, a 6 per cent increase compared to 2012.
National is focused on giving children the best start to life and supporting them throughout their youth to achieve at school and live full lives.