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$1 million rheumatic fever fund for targeted Māori communities

Media Statement: Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman, Minister of Health

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has today announced a new $1 million one-off fund aimed at increasing awareness and reducing rheumatic fever in high-risk Māori communities.

“Rheumatic fever is a serious but preventable disease. Children and young people from Māori and Pacific communities are the most vulnerable,” says Dr Coleman.

“The Rheumatic Fever Māori Community Fund targets six DHB regions where most of the Māori rheumatic fever cases occur – Northland, Counties Manukau, Waikato, Lakes, Bay of Plenty and Tairawhiti.

“These DHBs will distribute funding to Māori community groups for small-scale initiatives to test innovative solutions for increasing awareness and helping to prevent rheumatic fever.

“Community groups are expected to start delivering initiatives from July through to October.

“The Rheumatic Fever Māori Community Fund helps the sector and communities to work together. It also support DHBs in their efforts to address rheumatic fever.

“Nationally, we’re making good progress towards the target of reducing rheumatic fever rates by two-thirds by the end of June 2017. This shows the $65 million investment the Government’s made to prevent rheumatic fever is making a real difference. However, we need to continue to do more.”

Latest figures show a 45 per cent rheumatic fever reduction from 2012 to 2015. This includes a 54 per cent reduction in cases among Māori.

There has also been a drop of 27 per cent for Pacific people. A one-off rheumatic fever Pacific Community Fund was implemented in 2014/15.

Media contact: Kirsty Taylor-Doig 021 838 372

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