Healthy start to the year

Columns
Thursday, February 18, 2016

It was great to see so many people at the Botany Summer BBQ this weekend.

My team and I had a fun time putting it on, and we enjoyed seeing so many happy kids and families at the event. It will be good to see more Botany locals and families at our next BBQ in February 2017.

I want to share some of the progress we are making in assisting families in the area of health. We all know when kids are healthy and active they are better equipped to succeed at school.

That’s why the Government is committed to giving children the best possible start in life.

Around 780,000 children under-13 are benefitting from free GP visits and prescriptions thanks to the $90 million invested over three years in Budget 2014.

Latest figures show the rates of children under-13 visiting their GP is 23 per cent higher when compared to the same quarter last year.

So far 99 per cent of GPs around New Zealand are offering free GP visits for under-13s.

With more children starting school for the first time this year, we’re already on track to exceed last year’s B4 School Checks numbers.

In 2014/15 the programme reached a record 92 per cent, that’s over 58,000 pre-schoolers across the country – the highest rate since the programme began back in 2008.

It’s been particularly encouraging to see an increase for Maori and Pacific four-year-olds with 87 per cent of Maori children and 88 per cent of Pacific children getting their B4 School Check last year.

The B4 School Check includes hearing, eyesight, height, weight, and oral health assessments, as well as comprehensive health and development questionnaires.

Checks are provided free through a range of community health services.

On 1 July a new childhood obesity health target will come into force.

Under the target, 95 per cent of children identified as obese in the B4 School Check will be referred to a health professional for assessment and family based nutrition, activity, and lifestyle interventions.

The health target is one of 22 initiatives which form part of the Childhood Obesity Plan.

There is a lot happening to help keep children healthy and fit for when they start school.

See you at our BBQ next year.

Jami-Lee Ross

Member of Parliament for Botany