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More investment in protecting children from rheumatic fever

Hon Tony Ryall

Minister of Health


15 January 2013 Media Release
More investment in protecting children from rheumatic fever

Nearly three thousand more children most vulnerable to rheumatic fever will join the Government’s battle against the third world disease when they start back at school this term.

The children are from 24 schools in Northland and Waikato.

“Rheumatic fever is largely preventable, yet it can develop into a life threatening heart disease if left untreated,” says Health Minister Tony Ryall.

“It is unacceptable that preventing this third world disease was listed as a priority back in 2001 - but nothing was done and the rate increased.”

“However the National-led Government is making a difference. Our rheumatic fever prevention programme is one of the Prime Minister's better public service targets to support vulnerable children.

"We have committed $24 million to reduce the incidence of rheumatic fever by two-thirds to 1.4 cases per 100,000 people by June 2017."

“As well as sore throat swabbing and follow-up antibiotic treatment if needed, programmes are also working with local services to address other common health issues such as skin infections, healthy housing and insulation.

All up this year, 20 thousand more school children who are most vulnerable to rheumatic fever are set to join the Government’s drive to reduce this third world disease.

This will bring the total number of children being tested and treated for a sore throat before it progresses to rheumatic fever to over 50,000 at 208 schools and five community based services around the country. They are in the most vulnerable local communities of eight areas – Northland, South Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay and Porirua.

ENDS


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