College of GPs welcomes commitment to tackle rheumatic fever

5 October 2020

Category: Media releases


The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners is welcoming yesterday’s announcement to invest $55 million in tackling the root causes of rheumatic fever. The College are vocal critics of New Zealand’s rheumatic fever statistics and strong advocates for change that will improve health equity.

College medical director Dr Bryan Betty says, "Rheumatic fever is a devastating childhood illness, particularly for Māori and Pasifika kids, and it can cause a lifetime of poor health, in particular, heart disease, heart failure and, in the worse cases, death.

"In New Zealand, rheumatic fever remains entrenched in communities experiencing hardship and deprivation.

"As a GP working in Cannons Creek, which is a high-deprivation area, I regularly see rheumatic fever and its devastating effects on patients and their whanau. It is unacceptable that a disease that has been eliminated from most of the western world remains entrenched in New Zealand," says Dr Betty.

The College has health equity at the heart of its work and is working to improve health outcomes and reduce health inequities.

"Rheumatic fever presents with something as innocuous as a sore throat in children but can lead to entirely disrupting the course of a person’s life and the opportunities they have; it time consuming and a difficult disease that reflects a failure of the New Zealand health system" says Dr Betty.