Reducing rheumatic fever

Between 2012 and June 2017, the Better Public Services programme included a target to reduce rheumatic fever by two-thirds to 1.4 cases per 100,000 people.

How did we do?

In the 12 months ending on 31 December 2019, there were 168 people diagnosed for the first time with rheumatic fever in New Zealand.   

First episode rheumatic fever hospitalisations, annual rate per 100,000, New Zealand, 2002–2019

shows the rate of people admitted to hospital with rheumatic fever for the first time from 2002 to 201919.

Source: National Minimum Dataset

The graph above shows the rate of people admitted to hospital with rheumatic fever for the first time from 2002 to 2019.

First episode rheumatic fever hospitalisations, annual rate per 100,000, by ethnic group, 2009–2019

Shows the rate of people admitted to hospital with rheumatic fever for the first time by ehtnicity between 2009 and 2019.

Source: National Minimum Dataset.

The graph above shows the rate of Māori and Pacific people admitted to hospital with rheumatic fever for the first time between 2009 and 2019.

The rates by ethnic group were comparable to those for 2018 for both Māori and Pacific people.  For Māori, the incidence in 2019 is 30 percent lower than it was in 2012.  For Pacific people, the incidence is in 2019 is higher than it was prior to 2012. 

The following table shows the numbers and rates of people being admitted to hospital with rheumatic fever for the first time in 2019 by age group. It shows that the majority of cases continue to occur in children between 5 and 14 years.

Rheumatic fever first time hospital admissions in 2019 by age group
Age group Number Rate (per 100,000)
0–4 years 1 0.3
5–14 years 1106 16.3
15-24 years 32 4.9
25–44 years 21 1.6
45+ years 8 0.4

Source: National Minimum Dataset.

The table below details the rheumatic fever rates in 2009/10–2011/12 and in 2019 for District Health Board.

District health board 2009/10–2011/12 (rate per 100,000) 2019 (rate per 100,000)
Northland 10.5 5.8
Waitemata 2.2 2.9
Auckland 3.3 3.9
Counties Manukau 13.6 11.7
Waikato 3.5 2.3
Lakes 7.8 3.5
Bay of Plenty 3.8 2.8
Hauora Tairāwhiti 8.5 4.1
Taranaki 0.9
Hawke's Bay 4.4 ­2.3
MidCentral 1.8 2.2
Whanganui 3.2
Capital & Coast 3.1 1.3
Hutt Valley 4.9
Wairarapa 0 0.0
Southern region 0.5 1.1

Source: National Minimum Dataset

Note: Rates have not been calculated where there were fewer than four cases. This is because the small numbers will result in unreliable estimates of rates.

Where to from here?

Rheumatic fever prevention will continue to be a focus for the 11 DHBs with a high incidence of rheumatic fever.

In May 2019, the Government allocated $12 million over 4 years to improve the prevention and management of rheumatic fever, primarily in the Auckland region where most cases occur. This $12 million is in addition to the $5 million allocated per year until 2022 across the 11 DHBs with a high incidence of rheumatic fever so they can continue to deliver a balanced mix of rheumatic fever prevention activities to address rheumatic fever and reduce rheumatic fever rates.

Downloads

You can download the data tables for first episode rheumatic fever hospitalisations. Rates and numbers are available for the New Zealand population, by ethnic group and for district health board. The workbook also includes the data definition that is used to calculate first episode rheumatic fever hospitalisations.

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