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@Heart welcomes Budget boost to fight rheumatic fever

@Heart welcomes Budget boost to fight rheumatic fever

@Heart Inc welcomes the government’s commitment in the 2014 Budget last week to a further $20m to fight rheumatic fever – bringing the total investment to more than $65.3m over six years.

“Our family support workers all around the country deal with the serious results of rheumatic fever on a daily basis; it is very welcome that our government is funding the fight in what can be a debilitating and unnecessary disease for our children,” said newly appointed CEO Rob Lutter.

@Heart, know what life is like living with a childhood heart condition. We have been providing support services to children with heart conditions and their families since 1984. The needs of those with a childhood heart condition are different from the needs of those who acquire heart disease later in life. @Heart’s focus is on those who are living with a childhood heart condition that has existed from conception or as a result of rheumatic fever, cardiomyopathy, or Kawasaki disease as well as children born with congenital heart defects. We are the only organisation in New Zealand dedicated to supporting all those affected by a childhood heart condition.

Rheumatic fever is a preventable illness that predominantly affects children, with the highest rates occurring in the 5-14 year age group. Rheumatic fever causes rheumatic heart disease - the most common cause of cardiac mortality in children and adults aged less than 40 years, and the most common cause of childhood cardiovascular death and illness in the developing world.

Education, awareness, better living conditions and screening are needed to reduce the unacceptable numbers of our children heading into hospitals around New Zealand. “Our staff struggle to give support to families whom find it hard to get the next meal let alone heat their houses in winter. This Budget will help improve lives and help reduce the numbers of sick children in one of the most challenged areas of our society,” said Rob.

“@Heart is at the coal face, seeing the effects of this devastating disease and committed to helping with the fight to rid New Zealand of rheumatic fever. As an organisation this is a struggle as we receive no government funding. With 10% of the allocated funds towards raising awareness we could increase our family support worker levels by 20% in the areas most affected and provide better information and resources than we currently have,” said Chairperson Donna Jujnovich.

ENDS

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