The Government’s putting $12 million into combating rheumatic fever.

The money, from the upcoming Wellbeing Budget, will support Māori and Pacific communities to combat the preventable disease with their own initiatives.

Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa said the latest figures suggest rheumatic fever rates in Pacific people are increasing.

“Rheumatic fever is an entirely preventable disease. Māori and Pacific people – particularly children and young people – unfairly bear the greatest burden of rheumatic fever, which can cause debilitating heart disease.”

Pacific people make up 57 per cent of rheumatic fever cases and Māori make up 37 per cent,” Salesa said.

“This is in stark contrast to the rest of the population which represent just 5 per cent of cases.

“The Wellbeing Budget provides $12m to support innovative programmes that will reduce the incidence of rheumatic fever among both Māori and Pacific people and support better management of the illness.

“We’ve focused this initiative on the Auckland region because two-thirds of rheumatic fever cases occur there, mainly in South Auckland.

“Targeted and tailored initiatives are shown to be more effective for improving Māori and Pacific health outcomes and we are doing more to support this approach.”

Salesa said an example of these types of initiatives could be free school-based health clinics in disadvantaged communities, which have seen a significant reduction of rheumatic fever in some places.

“To have the greatest chance of success, it is crucial that initiatives and solutions are community-led and whānau-driven. The Ministry of Health will work closely with the Auckland region district health boards and key Māori and Pacific providers to achieve this.

“This is an important part of the Government’s plan to support healthier communities, improve child wellbeing, and achieve equity,” said Salesa.

Source: NZ Herald


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