Christchurch’s free health center to close

The Spark April 2010
Byron Clark

Christchurch’ s free youth health center known as 198 is likely to close at the end of this month due to a funding shortfall. The center has delivered health services to young people since 1995. In 2008-09 the center received $553,087 from the District Health Board but it was forecast to receive the lesser amount of $461,114 this year and unable to find alternative funding to make up the difference and will be facing bankruptcy if it doesn’t close.

According to Dr Sue Bradshaw, “The vast majority of young people who attend have very low incomes. They are either at school or in training, have no job or are in casual labour or a very low paid job. All of those who have left school cannot afford to see a family doctor. Those at school may have access to a family doctor but may not choose to do so because of fears around confidentiality, ”

Health Minister Tony Ryall was questioned about the closure by Canterbury GP Richard McCubbin when the minister spoke at a conference in Christchurch last month, according to Ryall the government will not provide funding to allow the clinic to remain open. According to a Health Ministry report, New Zealand youths have higher rates of mental illness, abortion, suicide, teen pregnancy and physical injuries than their counterparts in other developed nations. A recent Ministry of Health has shown that 20 per cent of young people suffer depression while up to 30 per cent have problems with binge drinking, these problems will not be solved by under-funding free clinics.

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