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Govt secretly stopped funding for bassinet which keeps babies alive

Author
Sam Thompson,
Publish Date
Sat, 9 Jul 2016, 7:09am
An example of the pepi-pods, portable bassinets allowing babies to safely sleep in bed beside their parents (Sarah Ivey)
An example of the pepi-pods, portable bassinets allowing babies to safely sleep in bed beside their parents (Sarah Ivey)

Govt secretly stopped funding for bassinet which keeps babies alive

Author
Sam Thompson,
Publish Date
Sat, 9 Jul 2016, 7:09am

The government is under fire for secretly shelving plans to fund a homegrown safe sleep device, which health experts say could have saved hundreds of babies from accidental suffocation in the past decade.

Since 2008, experts and Coroners have been recommending the use of wahakura, a portable flax-woven bassinet - or its plastic alternative the pepi-pod - to stop parents smothering their babies while co-sleeping.

A Weekend Herald investigation shows the ministry secretly tore up a $250,000 to fund the devices in 2012.

The report  reveals these bed baskets have been credited with helping produce the first drop in Maori infant mortality rates in a decade.

Labour's Health spokeswoman Annette King wants to know why funding was cancelled.

"I was shocked to learn that. I wasn't aware of it until I was told," she said.

"I was shocked at the attitude of the Ministry of Health, who ought to be doing all that they can to help the health of New Zealanders, particularly our most vulnerable babies."

"If they don't want it, I'd rather they came out and said why and explained their reasons for it, but to have so-called secret reports that are ripped up without the explanation, I think shows very poor practice by the Ministry of Health."

University of Auckland professor Ed Mitchell said the devices have reduced baby death from around 70 deaths a year to near 40.

"What I think we've done recently is shown convincingly that this is the cause of the reduction in mortality that has occurred," he said.

"I think that the evidence has become really clear that this is saving infants lives, and I'm hoping that the Ministry of Health will support this initiative. At the moment, most of it has been covered by charities and fundraising."

 

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