Ministry Of Health Scrutinising HFA Immunisation Coverage Plans
The Ministry of Health is determined to see more New Zealand children fully immunised to protect them against vaccine-preventable diseases, Director-General of Health Karen Poutasi says.
"We will be monitoring the HFA closely to ensure its strategies achieve that," Dr Poutasi says. "We all know that too many children are missing out."
Dr Poutasi said the key objective was to increase the number and percentage of children who were fully immunised by the age of two.
"The HFA has the flexibility to adopt a range of strategies to achieve that, but the Ministry will be watching closely to ensure that as many New Zealanders as possible benefit from the protection immunisation offers."
Dr Poutasi said the first step was for providers such as marae-based clinics, midwives and general practitioners to identify the children who are missing out. "Then we need mechanisms for picking them up and following them through. This requires good registers, effective recall processes and ways of ensuring that providers work together to keep track of children and ensure they have continuing access to primary health care including immunisation."
Dr Poutasi said not enough had been done to achieve the targets set in a 1994 immunisation strategy, although there had been some tangible improvements such as immunisation certificates and standards. The advent of a single national health funding agency in place of four regional health authorities meant a nationally consistent approach was now possible.
A centralised database was originally seen as the best first step. However the HFA, in the light of changes in its structure, in contracting and in information technology, as well as the increased number and range of well child providers, has now chosen to build the information from the bottom up - using providers' information.
"The annual Funding Agreement between the Minister of Health and the HFA, administered by the Ministry, clearly specifies a number of targets and deadlines which the HFA must meet as it moves to implement this," Dr Poutasi said.
"By Christmas this year, for example, the authority is required to have contracts with all well child providers for recall systems."
The Child Health Strategy nominates improved disease prevention as a key direction for better health for New Zealand children.