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Labour plans to expand its healthy homes initiative to help reduce the prevalence of rheumatic fever, the party said in a statement released today.
“Rheumatic fever is a disease we should not have in New Zealand,” Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said in the statement.
Ardern said poor quality crowded homes raise the likelihood of contracting respiratory infections, and increase the severity of existing conditions such as asthma, leading to avoidable hospitalisations which contribute to higher medical costs.
“It is unacceptable that poor quality housing is causing lifelong heart damage, as well as swelling and pain in joints and skin, and increased risk of asthma and other respiratory illness. The problem is much worse for Māori and Pasifika children."
If returned to government after the election, Labour said it will invest an additional $55 million over four years to tackle the root causes of rheumatic fever through health and housing agencies.
“The Healthy Homes initiative operates across eleven DHBs with the highest rates of rheumatic fever. Labour will expand it to the remaining nine DHBs. We will increase support for the purchase of curtains, floor coverings, heaters, beds, bedding, mould kits and minor housing repairs, at a total cost of $39 million over four years," Ardern said.
Labour said it also plans to ensure rental accommodation meets standards and will establish a national rheumatic fever register to help keep track of patients and ensure they get regular reminders of appointments and follow up medication.