Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says this year’s rheumatic fever awareness campaign starts tomorrow with a focus on reducing cases in Auckland.

“Rheumatic fever is serious but preventable. Children and young people from Pacific and Māori communities are the most vulnerable,” says Dr Coleman.

“While we’re making good progress to reduce rheumatic fever rates, there’s still more work to be done to meet the ambitious BPS target.

“This year’s rheumatic fever awareness campaign has an increased Auckland focus in more than 20 suburbs across the three Auckland DHB regions.

“More than half the country’s rheumatic fever cases are in Auckland, and increased efforts are being made at both regional and national levels to reduce the number of children and young people affected by rheumatic fever.

“Rheumatic fever awareness raising and prevention activities are being boosted significantly in Auckland as a result. Last year the Government reprioritised $875,000 from the $65 million invested through Vote Health to further help prevent rheumatic fever in Auckland.”

The Auckland rheumatic fever awareness campaign phase runs until the end of April. It utilises local media channels, Pacific and iwi radio stations and social media.

In addition to the awareness campaign, rheumatic fever prevention activities are being strengthened through a youth awareness campaign which includes theatrical performance projects, and training youth ambassadors to deliver awareness raising activities.

The Ministry of Health is also working with Pacific and Māori providers, as well as DHBs, to increase community engagement among Pacific and Māori communities.

Notes to editors

Figures show a 37 per cent decrease in rheumatic fever cases, dropping from 177 cases in 2012 to 112 in the 12-month period ending June 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 incidence 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.

A range of initiatives are in place to tackle rheumatic fever:

  • More than 40,000 high risk young people have accessed sore throat drop-in services.
  • There are over 300 drop-in clinics in Northland, Auckland, Counties Manukau, Waitemata, Waikato, Rotorua, Tairawhiti, Porirua, Hutt Valley.
  • Children are also being assessed and treated for sore throats through school-based services in around 200 North Island schools.
  • Healthy Homes Initiatives in all high incidence areas are offering packages of housing-related interventions to up to 3,000 families each year.
  • A Pacific Engagement Service has engaged more than 43,000 Auckland and Wellington Pacific families through home visits and community events to raise awareness of rheumatic fever and what they can do to prevent it.

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