Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says the latest Better Public Service (BPS) results for immunisation and rheumatic fever show improvements have been made, but there is still more work to do.
“Immunisation protects children from some serious but preventable diseases and helps to stop those diseases spreading. High coverage is important to protect not only the health of an individual but to protect the community as well,” says Dr Coleman.
“Since the BPS target of fully immunising 95 per cent of eight month old was introduced in 2012 coverage is up from 86 per cent to consistently between 93 and 94 per cent across the country.
“In the quarter ending December 2016, 93.3 per cent of eight month olds were fully immunised against vaccine preventable diseases such as whooping cough.”
Since December 2014, 13 of the 20 DHBs have achieved the target of 95 per cent coverage for at least one quarter.
Coverage for Māori infants has improved increasing from 78 per cent in 2012 to 91 per cent in 2016. Pacific immunisation rates are the highest they have ever been in the quarter ending 31 December 2016, at 96.5 per cent.
“While we’re making good progress in reducing the incidence of rheumatic fever by two thirds by June 2017, there’s still more work to be done to meet the ambitious BPS target,” says Dr Coleman.
“The current focus on rheumatic fever has resulted in a 23 per cent decrease in cases, dropping from 177 cases in 2012 to 137 in 2016.
“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.
“This year’s rheumatic fever awareness campaign, launched on 13 February, has an increased Auckland focus in more than 20 suburbs across the three Auckland DHB regions.
“The campaign will extend to other DHB regions with a high incidence of rheumatic fever in May and will run until the end of July.”
The Government has committed $5 million a year over the next five years to the 11 DHBs with a high incidence of rheumatic fever so they can continue to deliver rheumatic fever prevention activities to their priority populations.