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Government announces $12m Wellbeing Budget for rheumatic fever initiative

A $12 million Wellbeing Budget is set to help support Māori and Pacific communities to develop their own community-led initiatives in the fight against rheumatic fever, the Government has announced.

"Rheumatic fever is an entirely preventable disease. Māori and Pacific people – particularly children and young people – unfairly bear the greatest burden of rheumatic fever, which can cause debilitating heart disease," Associate Minister of Health Jenny Salesa said at a pre-budget hearing today.

"Pacific people make up 57 per cent of rheumatic fever cases and Māori make up 37 per cent. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the population which represent just five per cent of cases."

It comes as last year's data suggested that cases of rheumatic fever in the Pacific community was increasing, Ms Salesa said.

Throat swab Source: 1 NEWS

The Wellbeing Budget will provide support for "innovative programmes that will reduce the incidence of rheumatic fever among both Māori and Pacific people and support better management of the illness."

Auckland Regional Public Health Service statistics show that cases are 36% higher for the first half of this year compared to the same period last year.
Source: 1 NEWS

The initiative will be centred on the Auckland region, with two-thirds of all rheumatic fever cases occuring in the area, particularly in the south Auckland region.

"To have the greatest chance of success, it is crucial that initiatives and solutions are community-led and whānau-driven. The Ministry of Health will work closely with the Auckland region district health boards and key Māori and Pacific providers to achieve this."

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    Jenny Salesa says its crucial that the initiative is picked up by whanau and community.