6 Jan 2013

Boost for rheumatic fever prevention programme

12:55 pm on 6 January 2013

The Ministry of Health says its rheumatic fever prevention programme will be substantially expanded this year.

The Budget in May 2012 allocated $12 million towards the throat-swabbing programme, doubling the money dedicated to it.

The ministry says as at December 2012, about 34,000 children in Northland, Counties Manukau, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Lakes District health board regions have been through the programme.

Some 1100 children have tested positive for the group A streptoccocus bacteria that causes rheumatic fever and can permanently damage the heart.

The Chief Medical Officer for Health, Don Mackie,says the new money will allow another 44,000 children to be swabbed by the middle of this year.