More than 3,300 visits to free sore throat clinicsHealth
More than 3,300 children most at risk of developing rheumatic fever have had their sore throat checked recently at a free drop-in clinic, as part of the government’s $67 million rheumatic fever prevention programme.
Health Minister Tony Ryall visited two sore throat drop-in clinics in the Auckland suburbs of Glen Innes and Māngere today and talked to GPs, practice nurses and pharmacists about the difference the free clinics are making for families.
“There are now 108 free drop-in sore throat clinics around the country. These clinics are making it easier for families to get prompt treatment for a sore throat, before it can develop into rheumatic fever,” says Mr Ryall.
“Latest Ministry of Health data shows from March to May this year 3,367 four to 19-year-olds who are most vulnerable to rheumatic fever had their sore throat checked at one of the clinics in Auckland, Porirua and Hutt Valley.
“The increasing profile of rheumatic fever is raising awareness with families and health professionals, and as a result more cases of rheumatic fever are being identified and treated.
“Most of the visits have been to free drop-in clinics in South Auckland, which is good as it has the highest rate of rheumatic fever in the country.
“The free drop-in clinics will be expanded to areas with high rates of rheumatic fever in Northland, Waikato, central North Island, Bay of Plenty, East Coast and the Hawke’s Bay later this year.
“By the end of the year, over 200,000 children will be able to get their sore throats checked and be provided with medication for free,” says Mr Ryall.
The free drop-in clinics are in addition to the children being assessed and treated through the school-based sore throat programme which is operating in more than 230 North Island schools.
Reducing this preventable illness is a priority for the Government. As part of the Better Public Services focus, the Government has a target to reduce the incidence of rheumatic fever by two-thirds by June 2017.