More than 100 New Zealand children who died last year would probably have survived had they lived in Japan, Sweden or the Czech Republic, a new documentary shows.
But not if they had lived in Australia, the United Kingdom or Canada which all cluster around similar infant mortality rates as New Zealand.
United Kingdom 4.6
The Stuff report continues:
"Last year, more than 25,000 children were admitted to hospital for respiratory infections. Doctors routinely treat cases of rheumatic fever and scabies – diseases now rare in Europe.
The reason behind these preventable diseases were appalling rates of child poverty that New Zealand could not afford to ignore, Mr Bruce said."
The biggest contributor to these diseases is, in my view, the environments children live in. These unhealthy environments are often due to nobody taking responsibility for safe standards of hygiene and cleanliness. Mould can be cleaned from walls; floors that babies and toddlers crawl on can be vacuumed and mopped; food refuse can be removed rather than left to rot and attract flies and maggots. Overcrowding is frequently a symptom of choice. Choosing to share accommodation to reap more income and choosing to have children.
Returning to the opening suggestion that 100 more children would have survived had they been born in Sweden that isn't necessarily down to lower child poverty. For instance, child death in the immediate post-natal phase can be due to premature birth. Premature births can be due to very young maternal age. Sweden's teenage birth rate is much lower than New Zealand's. So the reason for this particular difference is largely cultural.
The Children's Social Health Monitor comments:
"While infant mortality rates are generally higher for Pacific>; Māori> ; European / Other babies, males, and those in the most deprived areas , total infant mortality rates are of limited utility in guiding population health interventions, as the causes of mortality differ markedly with the age of the infant. During the neonatal period (birth–28 days) extreme prematurity, congenital anomalies and intrauterine / birth asphyxia are the leading causes of mortality, while in the post neonatal period (29–364 days) sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) and congenital anomalies make the greatest contribution . Thus any interventions aimed at reducing New Zealand’s infant mortality rates must, in the first instance, be based on an understanding of their component causes."
The good news is, in any case, the infant mortality rate is dropping every year. In 50 years it has dropped from 23 infant deaths per 1,000 to 4.8.
I doubt Mr Bruce will provide some reasonable context for his claims. Perhaps he should stick to investigating unresolved New Zealand crimes.