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Prison initiative contributes to rheumatic fever prevention

Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman
Minister of Health

Hon Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga
Minister of Corrections

15 September 2015

Prison initiative contributes to rheumatic fever prevention

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga say prisoners are making furniture for Northland families to create healthier homes, and at the same time are learning new work skills.

Prisoners from Spring Hill Corrections Facility and Whanganui Prison are making wooden bedroom furniture to help families at risk of rheumatic fever.

The Rheumatic Fever Prevention Programme’s healthy homes provider in Northland is distributing the furniture to around 20 eligible local families.

“The Ministry of Health and Department of Corrections trial has real potential to help crowded families at risk of rheumatic fever,” says Dr Coleman.

“The Government has invested more than $65 million to prevent rheumatic fever - a serious preventable disease that predominantly affects Māori and Pacific children and young people.

“The latest statistics show a 24 per cent decrease in first episode rheumatic fever hospitalisations since 2012. While this is good news, there is more work to be done towards achieving the June 2017 target.”

“Corrections is committed to increasing the level of literacy, education and work skills among prisoners,” says Mr Lotu-Iiga.

“With this trial, prisoners able to give something back to the community and they have been learning valuable skills that will make them more employable on release.

“The prisoners have been working towards the National Certificate in Joinery levels 2/3 which gives them the skills and experience needed by employers.

“Getting offenders into stable employment is key to improving the lives of offenders, their families and the community. This will help with our government’s goal to reduce reoffending by 25 per cent by 2017.”

The trial aims to improve two Better Public Services targets - reducing rheumatic fever and the rate of reoffending by prisoners.

If confirmed as an effective way to support the reduction of rheumatic fever, the Ministry of Health and Department of Corrections will look at expanding the initiative across other high incidence DHBs.


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