A Better Start’s National Science Challenge Board Co-Chair, Dr Pat Tuohy attended this important event, in show of A Better Starts support of the work that Cure Kids has done in putting together this in-depth report which highlights the work that needs to be done urgently for our young people.

“The event was held in Wellington on the 9th of May 2023 and hosted by Cure Kids. Speakers included Frances Soutter, the Cure Kids CEO; Hon. Louise Upston, the Opposition Spokesperson for Social Development and Employment, Child Poverty Reduction, and Family Violence Prevention, and Andrea Jamison from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner.

The event presented the finding of the 2022 State of Child Health in Aotearoa New Zealand report by Cure Kids, The development of the report was supported by the Paediatric Society of NZ, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and the University of Otago Child and Youth Epidemiology Service.”

“Although there have been some gains over the last decade, particularly in reduction of hospitalisation for skin infection, the rates of hospitalisation for these preventable conditions are still extremely high, particularly in the under 5s, and Māori and Pacific tamariki and children living in more deprived areas. (Deciles 5 & 5).”

“The Cure Kids report also highlights the poor state of respiratory health, and the ongoing high rates and huge equity issues for children with rheumatic fever in Aotearoa NZ.  It appears that the early reductions in ARF and RHD which became apparent during the Rheumatic Fever Prevention Programme from 2011 to 2017 have not been sustained.”

“However the standout issue from the report in my view is the dramatic rise in child and youth hospitalisation with mental-health concerns, especially in young women, who are increasingly presenting with intentional self harm.  The epidemiology of this increase is unusual in that the increase is similar for all SE groups and the highest rates are seen in  girls of Maori and European and MELAA ethnicity.  This is also a key area of research in the domain of Resilient Teens, with the HABITs online mental wellbeing app now developed”.

“Cure Kids and A Better Start are proud to be able to support research into these important issues and support Judge Frances Eivers, the Children’s’ Commissioners call for greater investment in these areas.”

– Dr Pat Tuohy
A Better Start National Science Challenge
Board Co-Chair

A Better Start and Cure Kids Relationship:

A study to measure the mental health of young people who grow up in areas with unhealthy environmental features, such as gaming venues, takeaway shops, and liquor outlets, is one of 12 projects to get the greenlight through a  $4M collaboration to fund child health research.

A Better Start, one of the country’s 11 National Science Challenges, and Cure Kids, New Zealand’s largest national child health research charity, have co-funding projects, aimed at making a real-world difference for tamariki and their whānau.

The research projects centered on three key research areas – healthy weight, mental health and resilience, and early learning and literacy – and focus on equitable outcomes for Māori and Pasifika children.

Some of the other funded projects include a pilot study of wearable technologies to help young people to sense and regulate anxiety; a study of how school lunches affect children’s nutrition, health, school attendance, and behaviour; an initiative to deliver telehealth interventions and therapy to children on the autism spectrum; development of evidence-based and culturally appropriate advice to support overweight children; and a follow-up study of breastfeeding and early childhood for babies of mothers who took fish oil during pregnancy.

The projects were subject to a rigorous evaluation process, including assessment by independent expert panels. “The earlier we tackle a child’s health problems, the greater the benefit to the child throughout its life, and to the country,” says A Better Start National Science Challenge Director Professor Wayne Cutfield.

“We know that healthier children become productive contributors to society, and we’re excited by the strong potential these projects have to make a positive difference early in children’s lives.”

Cure Kids CEO Frances Soutter says, “the projects will address some of the most important challenges facing our young people”.

“Healthy weight, successful learning, and mental health are central to the wellbeing of our children to give them a better start on life. These 12 projects explore innovative ideas to enable better care for children, and develop new methods for prevention or treatment.  Five of the projects are designed to translate previous research into practical tools for healthcare professionals and seven are innovative new ideas.

“We are excited about the new knowledge that will come from these research projects and about how they will improve the health of our children.”

This is the second time Cure Kids and A Better Start have collaborated to create a contestable funding round – in 2017 they funded 10 child health research projects to the tune of $2.8 million. To learn more about these research projects click here to visit the A Better Start website.

To learn more about there amazing work and to support them visit their website at Cure Kids

About Dr Pat Tuohy
Dr Pat Tuohy brings with him a wealth of experience in the health sector to the ABS board and was the Ministry of Health’s Chief Advisor for Child and Youth Health. He has spent 10 years as a senior lecturer in Community Paediatrics at the Otago Clinical School of Medicine and was a Director of Child Health Policy for Plunket.

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