Māori and Pacific people living in New Zealand experience high rates of rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease. Rheumatic fever is a preventable condition that results from an autoimmune response to a Group A streptococcal throat infection. The New Zealand Government committed to tackling this inequity and reducing the incidence of rheumatic fever by two-thirds by 2017.
To achieve the target the Rheumatic Fever Prevention Programme delivered a range of initiatives using three key strategies:
Since the beginning of the programme, there has been a 23 percent decrease in first episode rheumatic fever hospitalisations. There has been an almost 50% decrease among Māori but more work needs to be done to reduce rheumatic fever among Pacific people.
Although the target has not been reached, the Rheumatic Fever Prevention Programme has had a wider positive impact as a change programme and as an exemplar in relation to integrating primordial and primary prevention activities across government departments through to communities. This presentation will include an overview of the complex, multi-faceted rheumatic fever prevention programme and its successes. Lessons learned from the implementation of this programme will be shared in order to aid the reduction of rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in the Pacific.