The RFPP was established in 2011 to prevent and treat strep throat infections, which can lead to rheumatic fever. The programme was expanded significantly from 2012 following the introduction of the five-year rheumatic fever Better Public Services target. The government invested about $65 million to identify and trial new initiatives to reduce the rheumatic fever rates throughout New Zealand.
Although the RFPP ended on 30 June 2017, rheumatic fever prevention continues to be a focus for the 11 DHBs with a high incidence of rheumatic fever. The Ministry continues to work closely with hospitals in Northland, Auckland, Counties Manukau, Waitemata, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Hauora Tairāwhiti, Lakes, Hawke’s Bay, Hutt Valley and Capital & Coast.
High incidence DHBs are defined as those with three-year average baseline (2009/10 to 2011/12) incidence rates higher than 1.5 first episode rheumatic fever hospitalisations per 100,000 total population and a three-year average of four or more cases per annum.
The Ministry continues to work with other government agencies, health organisations, community and philanthropic groups, researchers and professional bodies to reduce New Zealand’s rheumatic fever rate.