An Australian paediatrician and infectious disease specialist says New Zealand is leading the way in combating rheumatic fever.
International researchers and doctors have met in Wellington this week to discuss the high levels of rheumatic fever in New Zealand and Australia.
Rheumatic fever is the leading cause of heart disease in childhood in New Zealand, with approximately 160 cases diagnosed each year.
The Ministry of Health is implementing a $24 million campaign over five years in an attempt to reduce the number of cases of rheumatic fever by two-thirds by 2017.
Professor Jonathan Carapetis, a rheumatic fever expert from Perth, says the government's nationwide campaign is a world first.