Rheumatic fever rates fail to fall in central Auckland, Waitemata
The Government is reshuffling money to bolster its rheumatic fever prevention programme throughout much of greater Auckland after officials admitted targets are not being met.
In the year to June, the 31 new cases of the potentially fatal disease in the Waitemata and central Auckland health districts were at least double the target level. …
At least double the target level – and rising. See the full piece for various graphs.
“Most regions are seeing reductions in rheumatic fever,” said [Green] co-leader Metiria Turei, “but not in Auckland, where we know there are large numbers of people living in overcrowded, cold, damp and mouldy homes, and in cars and garages.”
The fact that most regions are showing reductions is good news, and a credit to the programme. But Turei is right about the regions that are getting worse. RNZ gets straight to the point:
Housing crisis blamed for Auckland’s rheumatic fever rates
The government is failing to make a dent in rheumatic fever rates across much of Auckland, despite millions of dollars being poured into tackling the problem.
The government has dedicated $65 million to its Rheumatic Fever Prevention Programme, which started five years ago with the aim of slashing incidents of the disease.
Though rates are falling across the country, children are still contracting the disease in the same numbers in the Waitemata and Auckland district health board (DHB) areas.
Under the Ministry of Health targets, Auckland DHB should have had seen seven new cases in the past 12 months. Instead it had 19 – two more than when the programme began.
It was a similar case in Waitemata which had around 12 cases last year – more than double its target number.
A prominent Auckland GP and the leader of a successful south Auckland prevention programme, Rawiri Jansen, said the DHBs were fighting against an increasing tide of child poverty and crowded housing.
“The key driver of acute rheumatic fever is housing and I think it is well known that there are concerns about he household crowding areas in wider Auckland. That may be the area where we need to increase our effort,” he said.
He said rates of the disease may actually have increased had the prevention programme not been in place. ….
Rheumatic fever is increasing in Auckland because poverty, poor housing and overcrowding are increasing. There’s only so far you can go with an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. To treat the diseases of poverty you need to treat the cause.