New health targets focusing on pregnant women and children

09 June 2017

The Government has set two new health targets focusing on pregnant women and child health.

The Health Minister, Dr Jonathan Coleman says the new targets aim to ensure children get the best start in life and that action is taken to prevent avoidable conditions which could result in children end up in hospital.

“Healthy pregnancy and a safe birth are foundations for a good start to life and with this in mind, the new health targets have a strong focus on improving outcomes for pregnant women and babies, and supporting kids to have a healthy childhood,” Dr Coleman says.

The two new targets are:

  • Healthy mums and babies

Target: By 2021, 90 per cent of pregnant women are registered with a Lead Maternity Carer in the first trimester, with an interim target of 80 per cent by 2019, with equitable rates for all population groups.

“Most pregnant women and children experience good health and wellbeing most of the time, but for a range of reasons Māori and Pacific families, and families in high deprivation areas, have poorer maternal and child health outcomes on average,” Dr Coleman says.

“Early and continued regular engagement with a Lead Maternity Carer (usually a midwife) is associated with normal healthy births and better pregnancy outcomes.

“Lead Maternity Carers also connect mother and child with other core health services, such as general practice, immunisation, Well Child Tamariki Ora checks, and oral health services, as well as other social services.”

  • Keeping kids healthy

Target: By 2021, a 25 per cent reduction in hospital admission rates for a selected group of avoidable conditions in children aged 0 - 12 years, with an interim target of 15 per cent by 2019.

“Avoidable hospitalisations include dental conditions, respiratory conditions (such as bronchiolitis, pneumonia, bronchiectasis, asthma and wheeze), skin conditions (such as infections, dermatitis and eczema), and head injuries,” says Dr Coleman.  

“It’s not about limiting access to hospital treatment when this is needed. In fact, we may see more children being identified with previously undiagnosed conditions, and hospitalisations may go up in the short term.

“The focus is on intervening early, so we can prevent conditions getting worse to the point where hospitalisation is needed.

“This target will be supported by the free under 13 GP visits and prescriptions introduced by this Government.”

To achieve this target the Ministry of Health will work closely with DHBs and the wider health sector. As well as other Government agencies such as MSD, the MBIE and Housing NZ.