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Heart Foundation thrilled with new rheumatic fever fund

Heart Foundation thrilled with new rheumatic fever fund


The Heart Foundation is congratulating the Government for increasing its commitment to eliminating rheumatic fever in New Zealand.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman yesterday announced a new $1 million one-off fund aimed at raising awareness and reducing rheumatic fever in high-risk Māori communities.

Louisa Ryan, Heart Foundation Pacific Health Manager, said New Zealand is making steady progress towards reducing rheumatic fever rates but more work is needed.

“The Government’s investment to prevent rheumatic fever is making a real difference, with latest figures showing a 45 per cent reduction from 2012 to 2015.

“We’re particularly pleased to see a 54 per cent reduction in cases among Māori during this time period. However, rheumatic fever remains a serious problem, which is why we’re thrilled with this new $1 million fund.”


The Rheumatic Fever Māori Community Fund targets six DHB regions, which will distribute funding to Māori community groups.

“We’re highly supportive of this approach to help communities come up with their own solutions,” said Louisa. “Local communities understand their people so supporting the health sector and communities to work together is a more sustainable approach.”

The Heart Foundation is also congratulating the Ministry of Health for its global leadership in this area.

“We were delighted to learn recently that New Zealand will be the lead country sponsoring a resolution on rheumatic heart disease at next year’s World Health Assembly,” said Louisa.

“We see this as a significant development because it clearly demonstrates New Zealand’s leadership in fostering relationships at the highest level within the WHO.

“It also provides a forum for focussing international attention on working together to achieve a resolution of RHD.”

Rheumatic fever is a serious but preventable disease that can develop after a ‘strep throat’ – a throat infection caused by a Group A Streptococcus bacteria. Although the symptoms may disappear on their own, the inflammation can cause rheumatic heart disease, where there is scarring of the heart valves.

The highest rates of rheumatic fever are among Māori and Pacific children and young adults (aged 4–19 years).

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