Young people being recruited to lead new rheumatic fever campaignHealth Youth
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Acting Youth Minister Anne Tolley say young people will be recruited to help raise awareness of rheumatic fever amongst their peers.
“Rheumatic fever is a serious but preventable disease. Children and young people from Maori and Pacific communities are the most vulnerable,” Dr Coleman says.
“To further help raise awareness about the disease we’re going to recruit and train around 100 young people, mainly Maori and Pacific aged between 11 and 19 years, to talk about how to prevent rheumatic fever.
“The young people will come from across Northland and the greater Auckland region. They will speak at community and school events as well as deliver theatrical performances on the issue.
“Recruitment and training for the ambassadors will get underway next month. It’s expected that they will start their work in the New Year.”
Mrs Tolley says there’s a range of potential benefits associated with young people delivering awareness campaigns to other young people.
“Direct interaction between peers can promote active learning, as young people can feel more comfortable and open when interacting with a peer,” Mrs Tolley says.
“This initiative will pave the way towards a greater understanding of key prevention messages among young people who are most at risk of rheumatic fever.
“The young people involved will also develop personal skills in presentation, teamwork, leadership and performance as a result of their involvement in the campaign.”
This innovative approach is being supported by the rheumatic fever youth awareness campaign partnership between the Ministries of Health and Youth Development.
The youth campaign is part of the $65 million the Government has invested to help prevent rheumatic fever.
Reducing rheumatic fever rates by two-thirds by the end of June 2017 is a Better Public Service target.
Recent figures show a 37 per cent decrease in rheumatic fever cases from, dropping from 177 cases in 2012 to 112 in 2016.
Good progress is being made with Maori, who have had a 56 per cent reduction. Dropping from 97 cases in 2012 to 43 cases in 2016.
More work needs to be done to improve the Pacific rates reduction of 10 per cent, going from 67 cases in 2012, down to 60 in 2016.
“Overall the rates are tracking in the right direction, but this is an ambitious target and we need to continue to do more,” Dr Coleman says.