Press Release – New Zealand Government
The Government’s fight to reduce New Zealand’s high rate of rheumatic fever among children will receive an additional $21.3 million over four years in Budget 2013, Health Minister Tony Ryall and Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia announced today.
“The new money almost doubles the substantial $24 million investment we are already making to combat rheumatic fever, as negotiated in the Relationship Accord signed with the Māori Party,” Mrs Turia says.
“As part of our Better Public Services focus, the Government has a target to reduce the incidence of rheumatic fever by two thirds to 1.4 cases per 100,000 people by June 2017,” Mr Ryall says.
“The disease predominantly affects Māori and Pacific children and the new money will help local communities and health providers to work together for at risk children.” Mr Ryall says.
Budget funding will include:
• $11.25 million over four years for sore throat drop-in clinics. This nurse-led service will reach high-risk families whose children don’t attend schools with throat swabbing services or when it’s out of school term. The free clinics will be based in general practices and other community settings in parts of greater Auckland and Porirua.
• $4.72 million over four years for an awareness campaign, including home visits and information resources, to help vulnerable families understand how to protect their children from this disease.
• $1.6 million into research on a rheumatic fever vaccine.
• $3.75 million over four years towards an Auckland wide healthy homes referral and advice service. Poor quality housing and household over-crowding are contributors to this disease, particularly in Auckland.
“Government and community groups will work to ensure that families at high risk of having housing-related health problems, such as rheumatic fever, can be identified quickly and referred easily to the Auckland-wide healthy homes referral and advice service,” Mr Ryall says.
“That’s where they can be assessed for their housing needs – including help with insulation, curtains, heating and where appropriate re-housing.”
Mrs Turia says the focus of the extra investment in fighting rheumatic fever will be in communities in Porirua and Auckland that experience the highest rates of disease.