Sth Canty youth suicide a major concern
There's room for improvement when it comes to the health of South Canterbury's youth.
The first in a series of annual reports, released by Wellbeing and Vitality in Education (Wave), shows a range of areas, particularly in health, where South Canterbury is ranked higher than the national average.
The report looked at 20 areas of health and wellbeing affecting children and youth.
An area of concern is South Canterbury's youth suicide rate. The findings showed there were 42 per 100,000 in the district, more than double the national figure of 17 per 100,000. The report looks at incidents between 2007 and 2010 and includes those aged 15 to 24.
Primary and community services general manager Fiona Pimm said, for a range of the issues highlighted in the report, there was no easy answer or quick fix to get the numbers down.
"The ones we're not doing so well on are the ones where we don't have the answers. We have to work with the rest of the country with whatever [methods] are proven to be effective."
Findings also showed acute mental health admissions among 15-24-year-olds were the second most common cause of admission in South Canterbury.
She said the district's mental health figures possibly reflected good access to mental health services. It did not necessarily mean it was a bigger problem in South Canterbury than the rest of New Zealand, she said.
The district's hospital admission rates for injuries in 15-24-year-olds were significantly higher than the rest of the country, along with land transport injuries and unintentional non-transport injuries.
Findings also show South Canterbury has a "slightly lower" number of obese and extremely obese children, compared with the rest of the country.
The report also found between July and December 2012, 70 per cent of new mums in the district were meeting World Health Organisation guidelines by exclusively breastfeeding their babies until they were at least six months old. South Canterbury's immunisation rates recorded between 2009 and 2012 show the district was between 1.06 and 1.11 times higher than the national figure, which was regarded as "statistically significant".
Dental care also featured in the report. The percentage of caries-free five-year-olds in South Canterbury from 2007 - 2011 was 1.07 times higher than the overall national figure. The difference was also regarded "statistically significant".
Rates of hospital admission for dental conditions among children were similar for South Canterbury and New Zealand overall. However, for the district's 15-24 age group, it was significantly higher than the rest of the country.
"We are higher, but we are being compared with the rest of the country, which includes fluoridated communities," Ms Pimm said. The district's 0-14-year-olds have significantly lower rates of hospital admissions for asthma and bacterial/non-viral/unspecified pneumonia compared with national figures.
The South Canterbury Child and Youth Health and Wellbeing Indicator report, by Wave, was based on small numbers, which meant there was a tendency for rates to fluctuate from year to year.
Deprivation and ethnicity were expected to be important drivers in many of the rates, with just 9 per cent of the district's population being in the most socio-economically deprived group, compared with 21 per cent in New Zealand overall.
It also found Maori make up 7.2 per cent of South Canterbury's population, the lowest proportion in any of the country's districts, while Pacific people only make up 0.83 per cent, the second lowest for any district.
"These differences in demography between South Canterbury and New Zealand could drive some of the differences in results," the report noted.
The report did not include physical activity and nutrition. Future reports are expected to included data on sexually transmitted infections.
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