Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Fighting rheumatic fever - experts respond

Fighting rheumatic fever - experts respond

6 May 2013
New funding to combat rheumatic fever announced today will provide for free drop-in clinics for sore throat testing and treatment in some of the areas most heavily-affected by the disease.

This builds on last year's scheduled roll-out of school-based swabbing services in seven high-risk regions. The $21.3 million funding programme (over four years) is aimed at:
• free sore throat drop-in clinics in high risk areas (Greater Auckland and Porirua)
• a health literacy campaign including home visits
• $1.6 million into research on a rheumatic fever vaccine
• Auckland-based healthy homes referral service
A full media release on the funding announcement is available here.

The Science Media Centre has rounded up the following reactions to the announcement from experts in public health and infectious disease.

Feel free to use these quotes directly, or to follow up with these and other New Zealand experts, contact the SMC on 04 499 5476; smc@sciencemediacentre.co.nz

Professor Diana Lennon, Paediatrics, School of Medicine, University of Auckland, comments:

"I think this is a very important package of new funds for rheumatic fever prevention, as well as the other infectious diseases that go on around it. Rheumatic fever is clearly a preventable disease. This disease went away a long time ago in the rest of the developed world.

"Crowding in houses is hugely important. Group A strep is a very infectious disease -- half of siblings of a first case will have sore throat pharyngitis themselves. Of course, if your house is cold, you gather in one room to sleep. There's only a very small amount of money put aside for this [in today's funding announcement] and I think there's a very long journey ahead in that regard.

"The first strategy involves providing school clinics in very high density areas for rheumatic fever cases. To augment that we need the next stage, described in today's announcement, which provides care for kids outside of school -- school is only in session 40 weeks of the year -- and also ensures that sore throat services are provided in areas where rheumatic fever may be slightly less widespread but where kids are clearly not getting access to the primary care they need.

"Sore throat drop-in clinics are a very important follow-on initiative. Without them the progress of prevention is impeded and we won't see a difference.

"Health knowledge and health literacy is another very important step. 'Sore throats matter -- sore throats need treatment.' Not enough families have been given this message.

"The vaccine programme is an exciting opportunity, but no quick fix. It's an important investment for the future and for New Zealand science. But it may take 5 - 10 years time to do the research, complete the trials and begin using it.

"We've got a long way to go with access to health care for disadvantaged kids and housing. These things don't happen overnight and we are starting from nothing. There's been an awful lot left undone for a very long time. We've really got no excuse."


Professor Michael Baker, Dept of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, comments:

"This pre-budget announcement about additional funding for rheumatic fever prevention is very good news.

"It is particularly positive that funding is going into addressing some of the causes of this disease, which are likely to include poor quality housing and household crowding in particular.

"Research we published in 2011 showed that rates of rheumatic fever were 23 times higher in neighbourhoods with the highest levels of household crowding, compared with the least crowded 20% of neighbourhoods.

"Even after adjusting for age, ethnicity, and income, there was still an association between the proportion of people living in crowded households and the risk of rheumatic fever.

"Most of the children getting rheumatic fever are likely to be living in rental housing. The initiatives announced today would therefore be greatly strengthened if they could be combined with a housing 'warrant of fitness' for rental housing (as proposed by a number of authorities, including the Children's Commissioner's Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty).

"There are probably two major barriers that could limit the success of these rheumatic fever initiatives.
The first is that reducing household crowding ultimately depends on having an adequate supply of affordable housing, particularly in Auckland. To meet this need, New Zealand needs to embark on a large programme of social housing construction with a particular focus on Auckland. Without that, household crowding is likely to remain or even increase regardless of referral and advice services.

The second barrier is that we still know very little about the risk factors and disease processes that cause rheumatic fever. These knowledge gaps are the focus of a current research funding round being managed by the Health Research Council. This round had $3.2 million of funding and its scope includes research aimed at understanding risk factors and the role of housing conditions.

"Work to identify and trial a suitable vaccine is also very positive and will be of international importance. However, it is likely to take a number of years before this initiative can potentially deliver a suitable vaccine for use in New Zealand."

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Scoop Business: Govt Resisting Pressure To Pump More Cash Into Solid Energy

Prime Minister John Key says it is “not the government’s preferred option” to make a fresh capital injection into the troubled state-owned coal miner, Solid Energy, but dodged journalists’ questions at his weekly press conference on whether that might prove necessary... More>>

ALSO:

Lagest Ever Privacy Breach Award: NZCU Baywide Accepts “Severe” Censure In Cake Case

NZCU Baywide says that once it was found to have committed a breach of a former staff member’s privacy, it had attempted to resolve the matter... the censure and remedies for its actions taken almost three years ago are “severe” but accepted, and will hopefully draw a line under the matter. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: PayPal Stops Processing Mega Payments; NZX Listing Still On

PayPal has ceased processing payments for Mega, the file storage and encryption firm looking to join the New Zealand stock market via a reverse listing of TRS Investments, amid claims it is not a legitimate cloud storage service. More>>

ALSO:

Housing Policy: Auckland Densification As Popular As Ebola, English Says

Finance Minister Bill English said calls by the Reserve Bank Governor for more densification in Auckland’s housing were “about as popular in parts of Auckland as Ebola” would be. More>>

ALSO:

Crown Accounts: NZ Government Deficit Smaller Than Expected In First Half

The New Zealand government's operating deficit was smaller than expected in the first six months of the financial year, as the consumption and corporate tax take rose ahead of forecast in December, having lagged estimates in previous months. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news