Wellbeing Budget supports rheumatic fever fight

Many Bay of Plenty pharmacies have a Rapid Response Sore throat management service. Supplied image

The Wellbeing Budget will support Māori and Pacific communities to develop their own community-led initiatives in the fight against rheumatic fever, said Associate Minister of Health Jenny Salesa at a pre-Budget announcement in South Auckland on Saturday.

“The Wellbeing Budget is supporting better health outcomes for Māori and Pacific people,” said Jenny.

“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. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the population which represent just five percent of cases.

“The latest data for the 2018 calendar year suggests the rates of rheumatic fever in Pacific people are increasing, which is a serious concern.

“The Wellbeing Budget provides $12 million 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 Maori and Pacific health outcomes and we are doing more to support this approach.

“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 Jenny.

In August 2018, a joint venture to reduce the rates of rheumatic fever in the Bay of Plenty was announced. Bay of Plenty pharmacies introduced of a new pharmacy-based Rapid Response Sore throat management service.

The service is a joint venture between Bay of Plenty Community Pharmacy Group and Bay of Plenty District Health Board.

Thirty-four pharmacies across the Bay of Plenty DHB area are providing free, no-appointment-necessary, sore-throat swabbing and antibiotic treatment for eligible patients aged four-19 years and their families.

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