$875,000 to combat rheumatic fever in Auckland Thursday, 10 November 2016

Source: Scoop, 10 November 2016

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says there will be a greater focus on reducing rheumatic fever rates in Auckland.

"Rheumatic fever is a serious but preventable disease. Children and young people from Maori and Pacific communities are the most vulnerable," Dr Coleman says.

"Nationally we're making good progress towards the Better Public Service target of reducing rheumatic fever rates by two-thirds by June 2017. But there's still more work to be done, particularly in the greater Auckland region.

"I've asked the Ministry of Health to work closer with Auckland's three DHBs, particularly Auckland and Waitemata DHBs which need to identify how they will bring their numbers down to help them achieve their rheumatic fever targets.

"We're also boosting the rheumatic fever awareness raising activities in the region. To help this work the Government has reprioritised $875,000 from the $65 million invested through Vote Health to help prevent rheumatic fever.

"This will be supported by the recently announced recruitment and training of around 100 young people, mainly Maori and Pacific aged between 11 and 19 years, to talk with peers about how to prevent rheumatic fever."

Recent figures show a 37 per cent decrease in rheumatic fever cases, dropping from 177 cases in 2012 to 112 in 2016.

Across the greater Auckland region:

· Counties Manuaku DHB is tracking well, having halved their rheumatic fever numbers from 66 cases in 2012 compared to 37 cases in the 2015/16 financial year. But the overall incident rate remains high.
· Auckland DHB reported 19 cases in the 2015/16 year, but needs a 74 per cent reduction to reach their target goal of five cases in 2016/17.
· Waitemata DHB reported 12 cases in 2015/16, but needs a 66 per cent reduction to reach their target goal of four cases in 2016/17.