Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Health transformation begins with maternity and early years services

New paediatric equipment for hospitals, and services for community-based Māori and Pacific providers are the first steps in transforming health services for the youngest New Zealanders, Associate Minister of Health, Willow-Jean Prime said today.

“We know that a child’s first 2,000 days lay the foundation for their entire future,” Minister Prime said.

“That’s why, through the exciting Kahu Taurima programme for maternity and early years, this Government is investing so every child gets the strongest start to life. We want all families raising precious babies to feel supported.

“I’m delighted that initiatives I’m announcing today will support some of our most vulnerable youngsters.”

To improve access to Neonatal Retinal Screening for premature babies, Kahu Taurima has begun by allocating an initial $7 million for the purchase of 20 new paediatric retinal cameras.

“This investment means at least one portable retinal camera will be available in every tertiary hospital in New Zealand.  Having the right equipment when babies are born means we can treat avoidable problems and monitor issues in the right way,” the Minister said.

“Improved access to retinal screening equipment is a vitally important step when it comes to babies’ eyesight.

“I’m also delighted to announce that more than $74 million will be invested over the next two years as Kahu Taurima continues to progress.

“That funding will see 40 hauora Māori partners and five Pacific partners supported to put whānau at the centre of their maternity and early years journey.”

As reform goes further, programme partners will be enabled to provide wrap-around support for whānau during antenatal, birthing, postnatal and child development care, the Minister said.

There will also be funded initiatives to improve access to maternal mental health and wellbeing care, including those who experience bereavement, through the development of solutions informed by whānau voice, she said.

“This transformation of services is a key part of the government’s wider health system reforms, which aim to provide accessible and equitable health services for all New Zealanders.”

“It is a pleasure to be hosted today at Turuki Health Care and the Fono in Auckland as just two examples of what we can expect to see as Kahu Taurima embeds into our health system.

“It will take time, but this is a fundamental shift to reconfigure services and supports around what matters and makes a difference for whanau.

“The Chris Hipkins Government is wholly committed to improving health outcomes for all families,” Minister Prime said.

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