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Heart Foundation on extra funding to fight rheumatic fever

Heart Foundation congratulates the Government on extra funding to fight rheumatic fever

The Heart Foundation congratulates the Government and Ministers Tony Ryall and Tariana Turia on their announcement of an additional $21.3M for rheumatic fever prevention over the next 4 years.

The Heart Foundation’s Medical Director, Professor Norman Sharpe, says it is great to see the long-term funding commitment from the Government and particularly the broadening of the prevention programme to include housing improvement, community awareness and better access to care for children.

“The rates of rheumatic fever in New Zealand are shameful. It is a third world disease which in New Zealand occurs almost exclusively in Pacific and Maori children. It is a marker of child poverty and ill-health and we need to eradicate this disease once and for all.” Professor Sharpe says.

“This funding is a great step on the journey towards eradication,” he says.

Rheumatic fever occurs together with other infectious diseases such as skin and chest infections in high risk settings characterised by poverty and crowded poor quality housing.

It is a preventable disease caused by streptococcal throat infection which can lead to heart disease.

This can require heart valve replacement surgery, or even cause premature death.

ENDS

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