News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Rheumatic Fever Rates ‘Causes Of Causes’ Must Be Addressed

Public Health Association media release 19 March 2012

The Public Health Association (PHA) says a new report revealing young Maori are 23 times more likely to suffer acute rheumatic fever than non-Maori lends weight to the Prime Minister’s calls to address rheumatic fever rates in New Zealand. But it also shows government must take action to fix what the World Health Organization calls ‘causes of the causes’ of health problems.

The report, The Health of Maori Children and Young People with Chronic Conditions and Disabilities in New Zealand was released today by the University of Otago. It lists economic inequality, often resulting in childhood poverty, as a root cause of higher hospital admission rates for Maori.

PHA Strategic Advisor, Maori Public Health, Keriata Stuart says the government’s stated goal of identifying and treating rheumatic fever early is laudable but that efforts would be better spent addressing what’s causing health problems in the first place.

“Poor quality, overcrowded housing is known internationally as a major contributor to acute rheumatic fever. This has been confirmed by New Zealand research, and the authors of this latest report have also called for better housing policies.”

However, she says it is clear from the Auckland situation that the private sector can't provide the healthy affordable housing that all our children need.

“We’re calling on the government to produce a national blueprint for healthy housing that will bring together private and public sectors to create better housing conditions. We know that’s a long-term challenge but, as the Prime Minister says, these are important health issues for children, and therefore for all New Zealanders.”

Ms Stuart says New Zealand’s public health community strongly supports the Prime Minister making “a substantial reduction in rheumatic fever cases among children”one of his eight priorities for New Zealand.

“However, the saying ‘Prevention is better than cure’ is as true as ever in this case.

“If we fix problems like inadequate heating and insulation before children get ill, disease rates will fall significantly, improving lives and reducing the burden on the health system.”

Prime Minister John Key revealed his eight priorities in a 15 March speech to the Auckland Chamber of Commerce. They are as follows:

Number one - I expect a reduction in long-term welfare dependency. In particular I want to see a significant drop in the number of people who have been on a benefit for more than 12 months. At the moment about 215,000 people are in that category, and that's far too many.

Number two - I expect to see more young children, and particularly Maori and Pacific children, in early childhood education. That's because all the evidence shows that time spent in early childhood education helps future learning.

Number three - I expect immunisation rates for infants to increase, and I want to see a substantial reduction in rheumatic fever cases among children. These are important health issues for children and were part of our policy at the last election.

Number four - I expect a reduction in the number of assaults on children. Far too many children in New Zealand suffer abuse and assault, and that is simply not acceptable.

Number five - I expect more young people to come through the education system with a solid base of skills, whether they get those at school or at a tertiary institution. So I want to see an increase in the proportion of 18-year-olds with NCEA level 2 or an equivalent qualification. Good progress has been made in this area over the last few years, but I want to see even more.

Number six - I expect to see a more skilled workforce, with an increase in the number of people coming through with advanced trade qualifications, diplomas and degrees.

Number seven - I expect a reduction in the crime rate. And that doesn't just mean total crime, it also means violent crime and it means youth crime. I want to see all these measures coming down.

Number eight - I expect a reduction in the rate of re-offending, from people who are in prison or serving a community-based sentence.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


13/10: 40 Years Since The Māori Land March Arrived At Parliament

Traffic into Wellington came to a standstill as thousands of Māori and Pākehā streamed along the motorway into the capital on 13 October 1975, concluding the Māori land march to parliament. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Before The Quakes

Remembering Christchurch: Voices from decades past: The Christchurch I lived in for my first 23 years was where four-year-olds walked alone to kindergarten, crossing roads empty of all but a couple of cars per hour. My primary school, Ilam, was newly built on a grassy paddock surrounded by rural land... More>>

6-11 October: New Zealand Improvisation Festival Hits Wellington

Wellingtonians will have a wide selection of improv to feast on with a jam packed programme containing 22 shows, three companies from Australia, two companies from Auckland, one from Nelson, one from Christchurch and seven from Wellington. More>>


Bird Of The Year: New Zealanders Asked To Vote For Their Favourite Native Bird

Te Radar, David Farrier, Heather du-Plessis Allan and Duncan Garner are just some of the New Zealanders championing their favourite native bird in Forest & Bird’s annual Bird of the Year competition, which kicks off today.. More>>


Werewolf Film: It Follows - Panic In Detroit

Philip Matthews: When you heard last month that Wes Craven had died and you wanted to pay homage, you could have sat down with any one of five of his films that helped reinvent American horror at least three times over three decades... Or you could just have watched one of the greatest recent horror films that would probably not exist without Craven. More>>


Werewolf Music: Searching For The White Wail - On Art Pepper, etc

If the word ‘hipster’ means anything – which it arguably doesn’t – it seems to be more of an impulse than a condition. One always headed for the margins, and away from the white-bred, white-bread mainstream... More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news