Child Indicators Research

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 1139–1159 | Cite as

Creating a Child and Youth Health Monitoring Framework to Inform Health Sector Prioritisation and Planning: Reflections on Ten Years Experience in New Zealand

  • Elizabeth CraigEmail author
  • Nick Baker
  • Jo Baxter
  • Catherine Jackson
  • on behalf of the NZCYES Steering Committee


In New Zealand during the early 2000s, an emerging disquiet about social inequalities in health led to calls for better information for public health monitoring. Health needs assessments (HNA) had been built into the planning cycles of the country’s newly formed District Health Boards (DHBs), which were tasked with “improving, promoting and protecting” the health of their populations. In child and youth health, a lack of data was seen as a significant barrier to effective DHB planning, with the needs of this age group often being lost amongst the concerns of an ageing adult community. This led to calls for a single national entity to select, collate and disseminate accurate information on the health of children and young people. This paper describes the origins of the NZ Child and Youth Epidemiology Service (NZCYES) and its 10 year journey to build a monitoring infrastructure to inform health service prioritisation and planning. Central to this work has been a theoretical framework, which arranges indicators into four hierarchical domains, reflecting key steps in the causal pathways linking the political, economic and social environment with child and youth health outcomes. These are cross-cut by a horizontal lifecourse dimension. Ten years on, while the available information has improved considerably, child and youth health inequalities remain high. The early hopes that HNA would show the links between socioeconomic conditions and health inequalities and that prioritisation, planning and policy would respond accordingly, have failed to materialise. Government agencies have not fully utilised the scientific evidence; and even when they have wanted to, a range of other factors (political, institutional, budgetary, inertia) have aligned to crowd out the changes that could make a real difference. Overcoming these barriers remains the challenge for the health sector over the next 10 years.


New Zealand Child health Adolescent health Health inequalities Health needs assessment Indicators Health service planning Prioritisation 



The PSNZ’s 2004 Scoping Project was funded by a Population Health Charitable Trust Scholarship

The 2006 Indicator Framework Project was funded by the NZ Ministry of Health. The NZCYES’ ongoing reporting is funded by DHBs (DHB and Regional Reports) and the Ministry of Health (Maori and Pacific Reports).

The development of the NZ Children’s Social Health Monitor was funded by a University of Otago Research Development Investment Award, with ongoing funding for the Child Poverty Monitor being provided by the JR McKenzie Trust

Current NZCYES Staff: Jean Simpson, Mavis Duncanson, Judith Adams, Glenda Oben, Andrew Wicken

Membership of NZCYES Steering Committee has included: Elizabeth Craig, Nick Baker, Barry Taylor, Innes Asher, Brian Darlow, Simon Denny, David Graham, Keith Grimwood, Diana Lennon, Johan Morreau, Tania Pompallier, Mollie Wilson, Jo Baxter, Teuila Percival, Carol Stott, Jean Simpson, David Newman, Dawn Elder, Mal Joyce, David Reith, Polly Atatoa-Carr

Special thanks to the Māori SIDS Programme and Mokopuna Ora Strategy Group: Riripeti Haretuku, Lorna Dyall, Tania Pompallier, and the Māori SIDS Programme Regional Coordinators.

Special thanks to the TAHA Well Pacific Mother and Infant Service

Finally, thanks to Auckland UniServices (University of Auckland), who hosted the NZCYES during 2005-2008 and to the University of Otago, who have hosted it since 2009.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NZ Child and Youth Epidemiology Service, Dunedin School of MedicineUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  2. 2.Nelson Marlborough District Health BoardNelson HospitalNelsonNew Zealand
  3. 3.Dunedin School of MedicineUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  4. 4.Auckland Regional Public Health ServiceAucklandNew Zealand

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