September 11, 2023
Racism contributing the rheumatic fever surge
A Māori medical anthropologist says skyrocketing rheumatic fever cases among Pasifika and Māori children is about health inequities – even racism.
Most recent data shows there have been 119 cases to the end of July, compared with 47 cases for the corresponding period last year.
The disease is especially risky for children and can result in heart damage.
Dr Anneka Anderson, from the University of Auckland’s Te Kupenga Hauora Māori – and says Pasifika people make up 60 percent of cases and Māori 37 percent.
“We’ve got a health system that privileges non-Māori and non-Pasifika, and I think if we had a whole lot of pakeha kids that had the same impacts on their lives – we’d see a lot more action,” she says.
Dr Anderson says sore throats are often the first sign – so she urges whanau to get them checked immediately, just to be safe.