By Donna-Lee Biddle, original source Waikato Times
A report about child deaths and injuries in the Waikato has highlighted the need for the district health board to put preventative measures in place.
But Waikato DHB paediatrician Dr Dave Graham said it shouldn’t just be health professionals responsible for child injury prevention, but the entire community.
The report said that between 2006-2010, 44 children aged 0-14 years in the Waikato, died of preventable injuries. And for the period 2008-2012, 3659 children were hospitalised for an injury.
The leading cause of death in the Waikato was suffocation, claiming the lives of 11 children, with the majority of deaths occurring in infants under the age of one.
Safekids Aotearoa director Ann Weaver said the figures were alarming.
“Every week on average around 150 children in New Zealand are hospitalised with serious injuries from an unintentional injury, and a further 1 to 2 children are killed the same way,” said Weaver.
“All DHBs need to do their part to ensure children enjoy a life free from the adverse effects of unintentional injury and that they grow to their full potential.”
The recommendations made by Safekids include introducing a DHB home visitation programme about safety education, a child transport policy, an advocate for child safety measures, a safe sleep policy and monitoring child injury rates in the region.
While Graham generally agreed with their suggestions, and the DHB had largely implemented them, he said it wasn’t just up to them.
“Child injury prevention is much wider than what DHBs can do; it’s everybody’s business.”
He said local and central government, local agencies including police and parents need to be involved in the process.
“It involves all of us as parents and members of the same community. It involves the media, not just in asking questions of DHBs, but in proactively promoting child safety messages. We’re all in this together; policies, procedures, laws, education and monitoring are really important but can only do so much – we’ve all got to keep watching out for our kids.”
Waikato DHB Maori health general manager Ditre Tamatea said the DHB had implemented a safe sleep policy to help reduce deaths from sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI).
“The Waikato DHB has a comprehensive safe sleep policy and has established a holistic model around the distribution of safe sleep devices and safe sleep practices to families in need.”
The model has been distributed to over 20 local providers within the Waikato and has been exported across the Midland region, said Tamatea.
“We now have a decrease in SUDI within Midland… after years of [those] rates being high.”
Nationally, close to 40,000 children were hospitalised from preventable injuries (2008-2012).
Boys are more at risk of preventable injuries, accounting for 63 per cent of hospital admissions. The most common cause of injury are falls, accounting for 38 per cent and fractures are the most common injury with 47 per cent of injuries in the Waikato.
A child health assessment tool and information pack had also been developed and was currently being trialled in Waikids wards at Waikato Hospital. It covered car seat safety, safe sleep, shaken baby prevention and family violence screening and support.
The Waikato DHB also promote Safekids messaging, Safe Sleep Day, Project Energize and have a regional trauma system.