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Nine years inaction on Rheumatic fever reversed

Nine years inaction on Rheumatic fever reversed

"Labour should be ashamed of its nine years of inaction on Rheumatic fever - a serious third world disease that affected more and more Kiwi children under Labour," says National Party health spokesman Tony Ryall.

"In 2001, Labour in government boasted that reducing the impact of Rheumatic fever was a priority. Basically, nothing happened, other than more kids got Rheumatic fever.

"Rates for this serious and largely preventable third world disease have actually increased in the past ten years.

"However, the John Key-led government has committed an extra $12 million over four years to combat Rheumatic fever in vulnerable communities. This will benefit around 22,000 children who might otherwise have been left undiagnosed and untreated," says Mr Ryall.

"The first of the National Government's throat swabbing programmes for signs of Strep A throat in school children are up and running successfully in Kaitaia, Northland and Flaxmere, Hawkes Bay. This builds on recent District Health Board programmes in the Bay of Plenty.

"Since throat swabbing started, no Flaxmere school children have developed Rheumatic fever while one child was diagnosed with Rheumatic fever from previously undiagnosed Streptococcal A sore throat during week one of the Northland programme.

And throat swabbing programmes with antibiotic follow up in South Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Lakes, Tairawhiti and Porirua are on track to start checking children for Strep A throat from Term One next year.

"Rheumatic fever is a serious third world disease that is costing the country up to $40 million per year in health care according to estimates by the Ministry of Health.

"And this doesn't count the untold suffering of patients and families. It can lead to years of monthly penicillin injections and cardiac surgery," says Mr Ryall.

"The John Key-led government is committed to improving health care for all New Zealanders particularly for those most at risk.

The Rheumatic fever initiative is one of several preventive health programmes introduced by the National government.

Authorised by G Hamilton, Level 2, 262 Thorndon Quay, Wellington

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