Whanganui passes target for pre-schooler health checks


13 August 2020



B4 School health checks are vital for children’s development.

Whanganui parents want to make sure their children are healthy, ready to start school and ready to learn.


That’s the conclusion of a team of hardworking health professionals, proud of the fact Whanganui has the third best record in New Zealand for health checks for children about to start school.


B4 School checks is a national programme offering a vital health and developmental assessment for all Kiwi four-year-olds.


This year Whanganui surpassed the government target, completing 783 checks against a target of 780, and of the 20 district health boards in New Zealand, only Nelson Marlborough and South Canterbury did better.


B4 Schools Co-ordinator Nicola Metcalfe said the results showed local families understood the value of the checks and were willing to engage with the health team.


“I have to say it was a lot of hard work by nurses in general practice and our Manaaki Te Whānau outreach team -- which tracks down children who haven’t been seen by a GP -- to get us over the line, while our hearing and vision technicians put in a huge effort.”


Nicola, a member of the Whanganui Regional Health Network team, said the result was all the more impressive as B4 School checks were suspended during the COVID-19 lockdown.


“The checks weren't allowed during lockdown and we lost eight weeks due to COVID-19, but we proved that by working collaboratively and with persistence, gains were made and children's checks were completed.


“I am proud to be a part of a great team that contributed to these results.”


Extra hearing and vision clinics were organised, and an additional outreach clinic was held at Born and Raised Pasifika early childhood centre, as well as monthly clinics in Marton. Operating hours were also extended for rural outreach clinics.


Whanganui DHB was also above the national average for four-year-olds in high deprivation populations and for Māori children.


B4 School checks cover oral health; development and behaviour; height and weight; vaccinations; and hearing and vision.