Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says thousands of new entrants heading to school for the first time this week have benefited from a free B4 School Check.
“The B4 School Check helps to give children the best start at school by identifying and addressing any potential health or developmental problems at an early stage,” says Dr Coleman.
“In 2014/15 the programme reached a record 92 per cent, that’s over 58,000 pre-schoolers across the country – the highest rate since the programme began back in 2008.
“Figures for 2015/16 are already tracking ahead of last year’s figures, and we’re seeing continued progress in reaching out to families in high deprivation areas.
“We’ve also seen an increase for Maori and Pacific four-year-olds with 87 per cent of Maori children and 88 per cent of Pacific children reached in 2014/15.”
The B4 School Check is the final core Well Child/Tamariki Ora check. Checks are provided free through a range of community health services and include hearing, eyesight, height, weight, and oral health assessments, as well as comprehensive health and development questionnaires.
The commonest findings in the check were vision and hearing difficulties. In the six months to December 2015, just over 2,000 children (seven per cent) were identified with a possible hearing loss and referred for treatment or further assessment.
As part of the Childhood Obesity Plan announced last year, the new childhood obesity target aims to have 95 per cent of children identified as obese in the B4 School Check offered a referral for clinical assessment and family based nutrition, activity and lifestyle interventions by December 2017.
This programme is supported by the extra $400 million being invested into the health sector this year, taking the health budget to a record $15.9 billion.
Media contacts: Kirsty Taylor-Doig 021 838 372