19 Feb 2014

Rheumatic fever risk a housing priority

6:02 pm on 19 February 2014

An initiative that allows families at the greatest risk of rheumatic fever jump the queue for state housing, has been extended.

The policy was rolled out in Auckland last year, and from 1 March will be extended into eight other District Health Board areas.

Nick Smith.

Nick Smith. Photo: RNZ

New Zealand has 14 times more cases of acute rheumatic fever than the OECD average.

The Government wants to reduce incidence of the disease to fewer than two people per 100,000 by 2017.

Housing Minister Nick Smith says families with children who have been hospitalised for respiratory tract infections, are receiving treatment for rheumatic fever, have had the disease, or live in overcrowded homes will be prioritised for fast tracking.

He says the policy will fast-track about 100 families a year into state housing.