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Actually, Labour did plenty to address rheumatic fever rates

Health Spokesperson

Actually, Labour did plenty to address rheumatic fever rates
The Associate Minister of Health, Jo Goodhew, could do well to update herself on the causes of rheumatic fever and take a closer look at her Government’s record on ‘tackling’ the disease, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.

“Rather than wasting her time attacking me Ms Goodhew would be better off reading the results of a study carried out in Northland and published recently in the New Zealand medical journal, which points out that overcrowding, poverty and inequitable access to primary health care are major contributing factors to rheumatic fever.

“It also shows rates of the illness in Northland, one of our poorest communities, increased over the last five years under National’s watch.

“Labour, in Government, introduced free doctors’ visits for under six year olds, reduced the cost of GP visits for all children, brought back income-related rents for the poorest New Zealanders, increased family incomes through the introduction of Working For Families, and started the home insulation scheme in conjunction with the Green Party.

“Acute rheumatic fever is preventable, but to reduce rates of it requires greater effort in improving housing quality, reducing overcrowding, addressing inequalities in household incomes, reducing disparities in access to primary care and increasing awareness of the disease.

“Even those working at the coalface are saying that throat-swabbing is not enough. I suggest Ms Goodhew also reads the comments of Dr Lance O’Sullivan, a GP working in Northland.

“The Prime Minister’s chief science advisor has said policy should be based on research and evidence. The evidence is staring Ms Goodhew in the face. She should take up his suggestion.”


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