6 May 2013

More money to combat rheumatic fever

10:25 pm on 6 May 2013

The Government says it will almost double the money it is spending on fighting rheumatic fever.

Health Minister Tony Ryall announced on Monday that an extra $21.3 million will be allocated in the Budget on 16 May to address New Zealand's high rate of rheumatic fever among children.

The Government is already spending $24 million on fighting the disease, which mainly affects Maori and Pacific children.

New funding will include $11.25 million over four years for a sore-throat drop-in clinics in greater Auckland and Porirua, near Wellington. The service is free and led by nurses.

Another $4.72 million over four years will go towards an awareness campaign, including home visits, and $1.6 million towards research on a vaccine which has already been announced.

There is also $3.75 million for an Auckland-wide healthy homes referral and advice service to improve housing.

Medical Association chairperson Paul Ockelford welcomed the extra funding.

"I think in the current tight environment, it's a step in the right direction and it will potentially have some effect on contributing to reducing the prevalence of a disease which is really important to a vulnerable group within our society."