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National Hauora Coalition & Counties Manukau Health Addressing Impacts From Misinformation About Throat Swabs In Schools

The National Hauora Coalition (NHC) and Counties Manukau Health raised concerns last week (25 February) about misinformation spreading across social media about COVID-19 testing in schools.

That misinformation implied that schools were testing children for COVID-19 without parental consent and then removing children from school who tested positive without notification. This did not occur.

NHC and Counties Manukau Health are now actively addressing the impact of that misinformation particularly on their Mana Kidz programme. This programme provides a comprehensive school based health service including rheumatic fever prevention, for 34,000 children every day. Both organisations are seriously concerned about the impact of this misinformation on the Mana Kidz programme and more widely on other important health programmes.

In addition, details of staff working in the Mana Kidz programme are being published on social media platforms and staff have received abusive phone calls and messages from members of the public who are not parents. NHC and Counties Manukau Health have spent significant time reassuring schools and whānau, taking time away from providing essential services to tamariki and whānau.

It is important that we hear and respond to concerns parents might have. NHC have been supporting the schools in doing that by sharing factual information with all parents and contacting every single parent who has expressed concerns.

Health programmes such as Mana Kidz have been put in place to support our communities. The impacts of rheumatic fever on our people are significant and long lasting. In New Zealand it has been estimated that ~160 people will die prematurely from rheumatic heart disease each year.

Misinformation impacts are also significant and long lasting, interfering with the trust we have built up in our communities over many years.

We urge whānau who have further questions or concerns to continue using trusted information sources such as Counties Manukau Health or Mana Kidz via their Facebook page ( or, phone (0800 MK TEAM) or email (

About Mana Kidz

Mana Kidz is a free, nurse-led, school-based programme that provides comprehensive healthcare by registered nurses and whānau support workers. The programme delivers care to 34,000 children across 88 South Auckland schools in the Counties Manukau Health region. The programme started out as a Rheumatic Fever Prevention Programme and has grown to include comprehensive health care. This includes health education, health promotion, vision checks, hearing checks, skin infection treatment and management, hygiene and overall general health assessments. This programme is  jointly funded by Counties Manukau Health and the Ministry of Health.

About National Hauora Coalition

NHC exists to support whānau to achieve hauora. Our vision is mana whānau, whānau ora and we are a lead advocate for hauora Māori (Wai 2687) through the Waitangi Tribunal Health Services Kaupapa Inquiry (Wai 2575). In our day to day activities, we partner with a wide range of agencies, Iwi and industry groups to commission and deliver a broad range of indigenously designed health and social services to improve health outcomes for Māori, achieve health equity and greater social cohesion for the benefit of Aotearoa.

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