Drive to clear up kids' skin infections

Children suffering from scabies and head lice are the focus of a Wellington health scheme being piloted next month.

School nurses will be able to prescribe medicine and approach family homes to try to stop the spread of skin infections under the Regional Public Health programme.

Eight primary schools across the Hutt Valley, Porirua and Wellington are taking part.

Cannons Creek Primary School principal Ruth O'Neill said: "Skin problems are one of the biggest, if not the biggest, issue that is ongoing for our children.

"It's about the conditions they live in and affordable healthcare, so if families can get treatment and help at little or no cost then it will make a huge difference."

Mrs O'Neill said skin infections had always been a problem in low-decile schools, but the number of children suffering had risen.

Medical officers would train and approve public health nurses to diagnose and prescribe skin medications, Regional Public Health acting group manager for school health Rocky Ali said.

The aim is to cut the number of children going to hospital with skin infections and teach families to avoid them.

"It's an opportunity to show families how to clean wounds and stop the spread of infection."

Housing, income, environment and education were complicating factors in the rise of skin infections over the past two decades, Ms Ali said.

If the pilot scheme is a success the programme will be available to all schools by October.

Contact Jo Moir
Twitter: @jo_moir

The Dominion Post