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Budget 2014: Additional $20m to help fight rheumatic fever

The Government has today announced free drop-in sore-throat clinics will be expanded to target a further 90,000 children and young people who are at risk of getting rheumatic fever.

“Budget 2014 will invest an extra $20 million over the next four years to combat New Zealand’s high rate of rheumatic fever – bringing the Government’s total investment to more than $65.3 million over six years,” Health Minister Tony Ryall says.

“Excellent work is already going on across the country. Expanding a number of these initiatives will help reach more families whose children are at risk of developing this serious illness. “The free drop-in sore-throat clinics will be rolled out in the Northland, Waikato, Lakes, Bay of Plenty, Tairawhiti, Hawke’s Bay and Hutt Valley District Health Boards (DHBs).

“When the free clinics open later this year, over 200,000 children and young people in high-risk areas will have access to prompt care and treatment for sore throats.”  Mrs Turia says the Government will also expand healthy homes initiatives in the Northland, Waikato, Lakes, Bay of Plenty, Tair?whiti, Hawke’s Bay, Capital & Coast and Hutt Valley DHBs.

“These initiatives help families to address housing conditions, particularly for those families living in crowded homes, a contributing factor for rheumatic fever,” she says. “And an extra $5 million is being invested to raise awareness of the disease, including TV and radio campaigns and information resources.

The increasing profile of rheumatic fever is raising awareness with families and health professionals, and as a result more cases of rheumatic fever are being identified and treated.  “As part of the Better Public Services focus, the Government has a target to reduce the incidence of rheumatic fever by two-thirds by June 2017.

This additional funding will help us achieve this goal,” Mrs Turia says. Addressing rheumatic fever is a recommendation from the Ministerial Committee on Poverty which was negotiated in the relationship accord between the M?ori Party and the Government.

Media contacts:
Jannel Carter (Minister Ryall) – 027 589 8884
Makere Edwards (Minister Turia) – 021 2214950

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