April 23, 2013
Poverty action key to disease reduction
A Northland primary health care expert says tackling the high rate of rheumatic fever among the region's Māori means tackling poverty as well as medical issues.
Kyle Eggleton from Manaia Primary Health Organisation says a report in the New Zealand Medical Journal on third-world rates of acute rheumatic fever among children shows the need for a whole of government response.
The study found that 95 percent of the 114 confirmed cases of acute rheumatic fever in the region were Māori children.
Dr Eggleton says that's despite increased effort on the medical front.
“In the north, we’ve got school swabbing programmes so we’ve got public nurses going to schools swabbing kids’ throats and we’ve got a healthy housing programme where we insulate homes and in the last year we’ve insulated over 5,000 houses. We’re trying to empower nurses to prescribe antibiotics for kids that come with a sore throat. Those are the types of medical things we do – but the cure for it lies in addressing poverty and addressing the causes of poverty,” he says.
Kyle Eggleton says rheumatic fever helps to contribute to the disproportionate rates of heart disease among Māori.
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