Press Release – Mana Party
MANA MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 6 November 2011 Third World Disease Rampant in Northland “When the Minister of Social Development says she’s shocked by the level of Rheumatic Fever (RF) in children in Northland, it’s because she doesn’t …
MANA MEDIA RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
6 November 2011
Third World Disease Rampant in Northland
“When the Minister of Social Development says she’s shocked by the level of Rheumatic Fever (RF) in children in Northland, it’s because she doesn’t know what’s happening to the kids that her ministry is responsible for” said Tai Tokerau MP and MANA Leader Hone Harawira, responding to comments from Minister Paula Bennett on TV ONE’s Close Up programme.
The programme featured Kaitaia GP Dr Lance O’Sullivan who said the disease, which leads to heart attacks in children, was the direct result of them living in poverty. He said Maori children were suffering from a disease which had been virtually eliminated in most developed countries, and that government would have dealt with the problem straight away if Pakeha children had been suffering in the same way – only 1 in 179 children in Northland with RF was Pakeha.
“The Ministry of Health actually turned down applications for RF checks in Northland only a few months ago” said Harawira “and now we have close to a full-blown epidemic on our hands”
Harawira said that “as the Minister responsible for social development, there was no excuse for her lack of awareness about the disease” adding that it was her duty to know about the poverty in our communities in which diseases like Rheumatic Fever could flourish.
Dr Sullivan said the disease meant Maori children as young as 10 were getting heart disease that 70, 80, 90-year old New Zealanders face.
“Lance and I have had a number of discussions on this matter” said Harawira “and I support fully his programme of going out into the schools in the far north to check children with sore throats for RF.”
Harawira said that many Maori simply could not afford the $10-16 to take their children to the doctor when they had a sore throat, and many parents simply hoped that it might go away. Sadly, that was simply not happening.
Professor Innes Asher from Auckland University, a world authority on the relationship between Rheumatic Fever and living conditions, said that while she supported government’s decision to spend $12 million on a programme to swab children’s throats as a way of controlling the disease, the real answer lay in dealing with the underlying causes such as over-crowding and poverty.
Harawira said that government needed to make a commitment to eliminating third world diseases in Tai Tokerau and to taking the steps required to deal with the crippling poverty in the north.
“And now that the Minister has had a rude awakening, maybe government might also want to revisit their foolish decision to decline the applications for widespread RF checks by the two Whanau Ora collectives in Northland.”