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Minister confirms Vote Health funding for rheumatic fever

Minister confirms Vote Health funding for rheumatic fever programmes in Northland

Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia, has confirmed today that a contract was awarded in September 2011 to Korokoro Ora Manawa Ora (MOKO) to start throat swabbing services in Kaitaia.

"Some confusion has emerged publicly suggesting the Ministry of Health has not funded Rheumatic Fever checks in Northland. I believe it is important that clear information is provided to those who may be concerned.

"The additional $12m in Vote Health funding to reduce rheumatic fever rates has been targeted on services in areas with the highest rates of rheumatic fever - and obviously that includes Northland" said the Minister.

"Phase One of the project involved establishing a new service in Kaitaia which started throat swabbing. There has been some amazing work done in Kaitaia by champions like Dr Lance Sullivan, the kuia Waireti Walkers and Lisa McNabb, and all reports indicate solid progress is being achieved".

The launch of the new rheumatic fever service was hosted by Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o te Rangianiwaniwa near Kaitaia, on 12 September.

Under phase two tenders for rheumatic fever local services in Northland, South Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Lakes and Tairawhiti have been received and are currently being evaluated by the Ministry of Health.

"I'm concerned at the deliberate and mischievous attempt to play politics with such a serious issue " said Mrs Turia.

"I have worked hard to get resources into the North to address rheumatic fever, because of the concerns that the people up there have shared with me. It is a bit late now for the local MP to take an interest in the rheumatic fever strategy and I am concerned at the misinformation that has arisen as a result of his release".

"The fact of the matter is funding has been targeted to address the high rates of rheumatic fever in the North; a new service was launched two months ago; and contract negotiations with preferred providers for Phase two of the project are in progress this week".

ENDS

Background note

* Local MP Hone Harawira issued a release on 6 November 2011 stating "The Ministry of Health actually turned down applications for RF checks in Northland only a few months ago

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