Media release 28 September 2017 - Children and youth living in squalor a national shame
NZNO is very concerned by anecdotal reports covered in the New Zealand Herald on Friday 22 September, from a midwife who bravely shared her distress about housing poverty and resulting infant and child illness and unwanted pregnancy as the result of incest. Other midwives and nurses have said her reports are familiar.
Associate Professional Services Manager, Hilary Graham-Smith says this shame is the impact of poor housing and poverty and, limited access to good health care.
“It is well documented that poor housing takes its toll on the health of children. Preventable diseases such as skin infections, rickets and respiratory diseases should not be a feature for any child growing up in Aotearoa, Hilary Graham-Smith said.
“Incest, resulting in mental and physical trauma and unwanted pregnancies for young women, is an indictment on the conditions in which some people live because of poverty that is leading to unwanted bed sharing, substance abuse and inadequate accommodation.
“We are speaking out in support of this midwife to let New Zealanders know the mental health and general health risks when people live in cars and garages and in squalor and call on the next government to urgently turn this shame around.
“We agree with and support Women's Health Action maternal and child health manager, Isis McKay that it is important for health professionals to speak out and highlight these terrible situations and the physical and mental health effect on children.
“The new government must get people out of living in cars and damp garages and ensure tamariki are physically and sexually safe. This is not a 100 day aim, this is now, immediately,” Hilary Graham-Smith said.
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