9 May 2012

Rheumatic fever programme to be extended

3:16 pm on 9 May 2012

This month's Budget will double the money spent on swabbing children with sore throats in an effort to eradicate rheumatic fever.

Prime Minister John Key and Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia made the announcement on Wednesday at Holy Family School in Porirua East, near Wellington.

The Government is already spending $12 million on having children in at-risk communities swabbed to pick up the early signs of rheumatic fever.

Another $12 million will be spent over the next four years so the programme can be expanded.

Mr Key said the disease should not be present in a first world country. "It's a disgrace that we do, and so it's extremely important that we carry out this initiative."

Tariana Turia says the extra money means another 35,000 children, possibly more, will come under the scheme.

She said all at-risk communities will be covered with the extra money.

If treated early with antibiotics children get nothing worse than a sore throat.

Throat-swabbing programmes with antibiotic follow up are in place for schools in Northland, South Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Taupo, Rotorua, Tairawhiti, and Hawke's Bay and Porirua.

The Budget will be delivered on 24 May.