Cactus Kate claims that Labour’s politicising of a study highlighting a rise in infectious diseases is an own goal.
A study by the University of Otago has found that the hospital admission rate for infectious diseases rose 51% between 1989 and 2008.
The study also note that between 2001 and 2005 there was an improvement, before the rate again rose.
The study found that Maori and Pacific peoples are more than twice as likely as European people to be hospitalised with a serious infectious disease. It also found that people who live in the most deprived neighbourhoods have almost three times the risk of being hospitalised with an infectious disease when compared with those living in the most affluent areas.
The main contributions to the increase have come as a result of a rise in the number of respiratory, skin and gastrointestinal infections. They include illnesses like childhood pneumonia, rheumatic fever and meningococcal disease.
Many of these infectious diseases are linked with poverty and the problems of poor housing, overcrowding and a lack of access to affordable medical care. They are most certainly not “middle class diseases”, despite what Cactus Kate claims. That is not to say that middle class people can’t contract these diseases. The reality though is that most sufferers are poor. This cannot be a coincidence.
So is Labour to blame? In part, yes. The reforms of the Fourth Labour Government started New Zealand down the road towards rising inequality, but the drunken joyride to neoliberal nirvana in the ‘90s was National’s doing. Despite some progress being made by Labour in the 2000s to alleviate poverty, most Labour people would agree that not enough was done. What we did as a nation in the 1980s and 1990s left so many people on the scrapheap that even with the best will in the world and the desire to actually fix these problems (something entirely lacking in the current government), it would probably take a generation to turn things around.
Cactus Kate can blame Labour if she wants, but if anyone is to take the blame for starting us out on this ruinous path it is surely ACT founder Roger Douglas, with the policies he introduced in the 1980s to shift the nation’s wealth from the many to the few.