28 Jul 2011

Better approach 'needed' over rheumatic fever

8:36 pm on 28 July 2011

A health researcher says the treatment of rheumatic fever needs to be a priority on the East Coast.

Te Tairawhiti has a high rate of the inflammatory disease, which develops from a sore throat and can lead to permanent heart damage.

A professor of social pharmacy at the University of Otago has studied prescription records and found many rural Maori in the region are not getting antibiotics to treat rheumatic fever.

Pauline Norris says the approach to dealing with the fever is not working because people who are at high risk are expected to understand the symptoms, go to the doctor and get their own medicines.

Professor Norris says a good system operates in the Hastings suburb of Flaxmere where health workers go into primary schools, ask if children have sore throats, take swabs and deliver medicines to their homes.