Healthy Homes And Hearts In Rheumatic Fever Initiative

  • Expand the Healthy Homes initiative for housing
    basics like heaters, curtains, bedding and floor
    covering
  • Strengthen healthy home compliance and
    enforcement efforts by Tenancy Services
  • A national
    register to actively track and treat rheumatic fever
    patients

Healthy homes, healthy children and
healthy hearts are the focus of a new policy designed to
drive down our rates of rheumatic fever.

Labour Leader
Jacinda Ardern says the prevalence of rheumatic fever is a
national shame.

“Rheumatic fever is a disease we
should not have in New Zealand,” said Jacinda
Ardern.

“While good progress has been made to tackle
the conditions that lead to ‘strep throat’ and
consequential rheumatic fever, we need to keep up the
momentum. We will drive greater resources into efforts to
eliminate this illness and protect our most vulnerable
communities.

“It is unacceptable that poor quality
housing is causing lifelong heart damage, as well as
swelling and pain in joints and skin, and increased risk of
asthma and other respiratory illness. The problem is much
worse for Māori and Pasifika children.

“We all know
that poverty and deprivation are factors in the 160 new
cases we have on average each year in New Zealand. We will
invest an additional $55 million over four years to tackle
the root causes of rheumatic fever through our health and
housing agencies.

“The Healthy Homes initiative
operates across eleven DHBs with the highest rates of
rheumatic fever. Labour will expand it to the remaining nine
DHBs. We will increase support for the purchase of curtains,
floor coverings, heaters, beds, bedding, mould kits and
minor housing repairs, at a total cost of $39 million over
four years.

“We will beef up the ability of Tenancy
Services compliance and enforcement teams to ensure rental
accommodation meets standards. An additional $16 million
over four years will allow these inspectors from MBIE to
proactively target high risk areas and
communities.

“In our previously announced Health
policy we also confirmed plans to establish a rheumatic
fever register. A national register will help keep track of
patients and ensure they get regular reminders of
appointments and the follow up medication they need to
control the illness.

“Labour will also ensure that
people being tested for COVID-19 who fall into the high-risk
groups for rheumatic fever are also tested for Group A
Streptococcus (GAS) bacteria – which can cause a throat
infection that develops into rheumatic fever.

“We
want this disease to vanish from New Zealand,” said
Jacinda
Ardern.

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