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Much needed investment in Rheumatic fever shows commitment

The National Hauora Coalition (NHC) welcomes Hon Jenny Salesa’s recent pre-budget announcement of a $12 million investment into rheumatic fever prevention programmes.

Rheumatic fever remains a disgraceful indicator of inequity in Aotearoa, which disproportionately impacts Māori and Pacific children, young people and their whānau.

In 2011 the staggering rheumatic fever rates led to funding announced by the then Associate Minister, Dame Tariana Turia, forming the basis of this country’s rheumatic fever prevention programme. That programme and its funding formally ended in 2017.

“Mana Kidz is a nurse-led, school-based health programme for tamariki across 88 South Auckland primary and intermediate schools run by NHC. Last year it reached more than 34,000 children offering free sore throat checks and other health services.

“Since Mana Kidz started in 2013 there has been a reduction in preventable diseases such as rheumatic fever in the district. And we are very proud of that”, explains NHC Chief Executive Simon Royal.

“When the previous Government reduced its focus on rheumatic fever back in 2017 they were premature. The work was in no way finished.”

“What we see now is that the rates for Māori tamariki have improved substantially but we must be vigilant to maintain our success. And the evidence is also that the health system still hasn’t got it right for Pacific children, who continue to have the highest rates of rheumatic fever.

“The investment of $12 million to support programmes to reduce the incident of rheumatic fever among Māori and Pacific people, focused on the Auckland region, provides a much needed boost to the work we do with Mana Kidz. We look forward to working with the Government and our colleagues on this important work

“In addition to this health funding, we also expect to see a focus on also addressing the wider determinants of health and wellbeing across its budget, especially as housing remains a major challenge to successfully eradicating rheumatic fever”.

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