5 Jul 2012

Rheumatic fever campaign tackles eastern Bay of Plenty

7:27 am on 5 July 2012

An eastern Bay of Plenty Maori health organisation says its face-to-face contact with the community to tackle rheumatic fever is paying off.

Te Kaokao o Takapu has launched a campaign to fight the disease by offering a throat swabbing service in schools in Taneatua and other parts of the region.

One of its health workers, Mahina Harawira, says the incidence of rheumatic fever in the rohe is two to three times higher than the rest of New Zealand, and 90% of the cases are Maori children.

She says because the organisation has been established in the community for 14 years, they have a good rapport with locals who are responding well to the campaign.

Ms Harawira says not every family can make it to a clinic so Te Kaokao o Takapu health workers have been pushing the message about rheumatic fever in schools and by visiting whanau in remote areas, which has helped spread the campaign even wider.

She says the health workers are now recognised in the community as the 'sore throat ladies', because tamariki now know to come to them when they have an infected throat.