More can and will be done to improve the health of New Zealand children, the Ministry of Health has highlighted today on United Nations Universal Children’s Day, November 20.

The day was established in 1954 and is celebrated each year to improve children's welfare, and to promote awareness of children’s issues and rights worldwide.

November 20 was the date in 1959 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It was also the date in 1989 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Over the last decade in New Zealand, immunisation of children against measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases among primary school children has markedly improved, with 89% of 5-year-olds now fully immunised, although more work needs to be done with secondary school children, says Deputy Director of Public Health Dr Harriette Carr.

‘There are a large number of teenagers and young people who have lower levels of immunisation. This has resulted in a number of outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases over the past 10 years. We are currently experiencing a large number of mumps cases in this age group, due in part to their lower immunisation rates.

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