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 30 June 2019, there were 176 people diagnosed for the first time with rheumatic fever in New Zealand.  

First episode rheumatic fever hospitalisations, annual rate per 100,000, New Zealand, 2002/03–2018/19

shows the rate of people admitted to hospital with rheumatic fever for the first time from 2002/03 to 2018/19.

Source: National Minimum Dataset

The graph above shows the rate of people admitted to hospital with rheumatic fever for the first time from 2002/03 to 2018/19.

First episode rheumatic fever hospitalisations, annual rate per 100,000, Māori and Pacific people, 2011/12–2018/19

Shows the rate of Māori and Pacific people admitted to hospital with rheumatic fever for the first time between 2011/12 and 2018/19.

Source: National Minimum Dataset.
Note that the graph shown on this page differs from that shown previously as it only includes financial year data.

The graph above shows the rate of Māori and Pacific people admitted to hospital with rheumatic fever for the first time between 2011/12 and 2018/19.

By 30 June 2019, rheumatic fever incidence in Māori had fallen by 25 percent from 2009/10-2011/12.  There was a 40 percent increase in the incidence of rheumatic fever cases in Pacific people (this increase is not statistically significant).

The following table shows the numbers and rates of people being admitted to hospital with rheumatic fever for the first time in 2018/19 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 2018/19 by age group
Age group Number Rate (per 100,000)
0–4 years 0 0.0
5–14 years 114 17.8
15-24 years 38 5.7
25–44 years 20 1.5
45+ years 4 0.2

Source: National Minimum Dataset.

The table below details the rheumatic fever rates in 2009/10–2011/12 and in 2018/19 by District Health Board.

District health board 2009/10–2011/12 (rate per 100,000) 2018/19 (rate per 100,000)
Northland 10.5 6.6
Waitemata 2.2 2.7
Auckland 3.3 2.8
Counties Manukau 13.6 13.8
Waikato 3.5 3.1
Lakes 7.8 6.4
Bay of Plenty 3.8 2.5
Hauora Tairāwhiti 8.5
Taranaki 0.9
Hawke's Bay 4.4 ­4.8
MidCentral 1.8 2.8
Whanganui 3.2
Capital & Coast 3.1
Hutt Valley 4.9 2.7
Wairarapa 0 0.0
Southern region 0.5 0.3

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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