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New roadmap to tackle rheumatic fever

New roadmap to tackle rheumatic fever

  • 19 Jun 2023
Screen Shot 2023 06 13 at 12.46.44 pm

Associate Health Minister Hon Barbara Edmonds has announced a five-year focus on tackling rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in Aotearoa.

The Rheumatic Fever Roadmap 2023 - 2028 launched in Ōtara on June 13, will help prevent, identify and manage rheumatic fever across New Zealand.

Minister Edmonds says rheumatic fever is an entirely preventable disease.

“Pacific and Māori people, particularly our children and young people, bear the greatest burden of rheumatic fever which can cause debilitating heart disease,” she says.

Pacific people make up 60 percent of overall rheumatic fever cases with Māori following at 37 percent, adds the Minister. 

“This is in sharp contrast to the rest of the population which represent three percent.

"Despite a decline in hospitalisations, latest data for Auckland indicates that overall rheumatic case numbers have been trending up again post-pandemic - we know this is worrying for communities.”

Over the past decade a range of prevention programmes have focussed on sore throat management and access to care, healthy housing and raising awareness.

The roadmap announcement brings these together, alongside new initiatives.

There will be a continued priority on those most at risk, and it is important for their aiga to gain better access to knowledge about prevention and management, Minister Edmonds says.

"The roadmap outlines improved access and coordination of care, including the transition between paediatric and adult services, reducing barriers for patients, and supporting workforce development.

"Rheumatic fever prevention is complex and requires a comprehensive response.

"I want to acknowledge everyone across who helped develop the roadmap, from academics to health professionals, researchers and whānau who has shared their lived experience.

"Their input has ensured a strong patient, whānau and community focus.”

Visit the Te Whatu Ora website to read the roadmap and more information.