Innes Asher, the professor of paediatrics at Auckland medical school, is leading a study into child illness in more than a 100 countries.
She says Maori kids and others from poor families are growing up in third world conditions similar to the worst slums in countries like Chile and India.
Professor Asher says government is to blame New Zealand ranking at the top of OECD tables for preventable childhood diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis, whooping cough, and rheumatic fever.
“Maori have about double rates of most of those types of conditions but particularly higher rates of rheumatic fever and bronchiectasis which are both permanently disabling conditions of the lungs and the heart so children who get these conditions may die in young adulthood from lung or heart disease or have permanent injury and be unable to work. Appalling high rates by international standards, quite a disgraceful outcome by our country’s children,” Professor Asher says.
She says many New Zealand families can’t afford to take their children to the doctor.