Monday, February 20, 2012

The cost of cuts

Stuff reports that infectious disease rates have risen in NZ in the last twenty years - the exact opposite of what has been happening in the rest of the developed world.

The study, published in international medical journal The Lancet, reveals that infectious diseases increased by 51 per cent in New Zealand between 1989 and 2008.


The study is the first ever of serious infectious diseases across an entire country and over an extended period. It was based on analysis of 5 million overnight admissions to New Zealand hospitals over a 20 year period.

It found that most categories of infectious disease have risen, with the main contributions coming from increases in respiratory, skin and gastrointestinal infections. Infectious diseases included illnesses such as acute rheumatic fever, childhood pneumonia and meningococcal disease.

These are all diseases of poverty, which makes the cause pretty obvious: in the 90's we cut benefits and state housing during a recession, creating a permanent underclass which remains with us to this day. People were economically forced into unsanitary, overcrowded conditions. Meanwhile, we cut health entitlements and introduced prescription charges. Its no wonder that diseases of poverty exploded. And that now costs us 17,000 extra hospital admissions and tens of millions of dollars a year.

Just another example of how cuts don't actually save money, but just mean that we pay for things in different ways.