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Improving, Extending and Saving Lives—What Cure Kids is All About

Learn about Cure Kids and the incredible medical research they make possible.

Helping improve, extend and save the lives of Kiwi kids living with serious illnesses and conditions
that is what Cure Kids is all about.

Read our interview with Cure Kids to learn more about why they were established, and the incredible medical research they make possible.

Why was Cure Kids developed? 

While our country had once claimed one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world, by the early 1970s New Zealand had regressed to sixth place. Even worse, for children aged from one month to one year World Health Organization statistics placed New Zealand 14th on the global mortality scale – one of the highest mortality figures for that age group in the developed world.

New Zealand’s hospitals were battling to keep seriously ill children off the mortality tables. At the same time, they were trying to investigate and treat numerous ailments and disorders that were still mysteries to medical science. 

Paediatricians were also increasingly worried about the large number of children permanently crippled with muscular, brain, bone, heart, lung, bowel, kidney, intellectual, emotional and other problems. Alongside these problems was the challenge of congenital abnormalities and inherited diseases that caused death or prolonged ill-health.

Influencers from New Zealand’s medical world agreed that research was the best way to reverse the slide of child health.

With the help of Rotary, Cure Kids was established in 1971. We are the only organisation in New Zealand dedicated solely to funding child health research. Every piece of research we pay for has been expertly identified as valuable for the ongoing enhancement of child health in this country. 

What’s the impact Cure Kids has made?

Over the past 50 years, Cure Kids has invested more than $60 million into world-class New Zealand research that has helped improve and save the lives of millions of children, both here and around the world.

What are key areas of child health research that Cure Kids supports?

Cure Kids' funding supports researchers across New Zealand whose work focuses on rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease, childhood cancers, inherited heart conditions, epilepsy, infectious diseases, cystic fibrosis, sudden unexpected death in infants (SUDI), stillbirth, nutrition as well as child and adolescent mental health – and many, many other areas of research.

What is Cure Kids aim?

Cure Kids' vision is healthier children, with brighter futures, by funding research right from pregnancy through to adolescent teen years.

Why is it important for people to financially support Cure Kids?

We are proud to be making a difference to the lives of those most vulnerable, but it is still not enough. UNICEF recently ranked the health and wellbeing of New Zealand children 38th out of 41 developed countries. This puts us behind countries like Bulgaria, Chile and Mexico. Clearly, there is still much for Cure Kids to do.

New Zealand is one of the only developed nations to still have high rates of rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease. Plus, our recent State of Child Health report also identified serious issues with oral, respiratory and skin infections. 

What is a challenge of being a not-for-profit in New Zealand?

There are a lot of charities that do meaningful work but because there are so many, it is cluttered. The New Zealand Cause Report, undertaken by JBWere in 2017 shows: The total not-for-profit sector comprises around 115,000 organisations, the majority (61% estimated by Statistics New Zealand) of which are often small, unincorporated associations and often volunteer-based. 

Since 2010, 2.5 new charities have started up each day. Considering the governance requirements from Board members and the number of them required, this may create a burden on an increasing number of supporters.

Can you tell us something people may not know about Cure Kids? 

Cure Kids is the largest funder of child health research outside the government.

What in particular will Great Full Jams support?

The Jams project will enable Cure Kids to tackle the big challenges affecting the health of Kiwi kids. It will help fund innovative, blue-sky research that focuses on unanswered questions. These challenges are usually related to diagnosing, preventing and treating diseases, as well as how to improve care for children.