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School based swabbing programmes

School based swabbing programmes in the Eastern Bay of Plenty

School based throat swabbing programmes have commenced in the communities of Opotiki, Kawerau and Murupara.  The programmes are based on the successful Whangaroa (Northland) project and are aimed at preventing rheumatic fever by detecting and treating streptococcal throat infection (‘strep throat’).

Sandra Ball is employed by Eastern Bay Primary Health Alliance (EBPHA) as the clinical lead for all three projects. Please contact for further information.

All three children featured on the ‘sore throats matter’ pamphlets have experienced acute rheumatic fever.  The children Tutohia, Michael and Mersayde and their whanau have generously agreed to represent their communities and share their stories to help raise awareness about rheumatic fever.  For further information please click here.

Opotiki rheumatic fever prevention project

Whakatohea Iwi Social and Health Services (WISH) have successfully led the Opotiki project, which commenced in October 2009.  Nita Walker and Miriam Steadman, community health workers from WISH, visit Opotiki primary schools twice per week and take throat swabs from consented children reporting a sore throat. Swabbing also commenced at Opotiki College in term 1 2010.  The swabs are tested for Group A Streptococcus (GAS) bacteria.

By detecting and treating strep throat in school children, rheumatic fever is less likely to develop. If ‘strep throat’ is diagnosed, the doctor prescribes a 10 day course of Penicillin. It is important that the whole 10 day course is completed to prevent rheumatic fever. The project team maintains contact with parents/whanau to answer any queries that may arise during the ten days of antibiotic treatment.

Kawerau rheumatic fever prevention project

The Kawerau project, led by Eastern Bay Primary Health Alliance (EBPHA) began school-based throat swabbing in February 2011. The community wealth workers are Liisa Wana and Melissa Bennett.

The project was officially launched by Tony Ryall, Minister of Health, at Kawerau South School on 20 May 2011. Click here to read about the official launch.


Murupara rheumatic fever prevention project

The Murupara project, led by Te Ika Whenua Hauora (TIWH) commenced throat swabbing in May 2011.  The project was officially launched by Tariana Turia, Associate Minister of Health, at Te Kura Kaupapa Motuhake O Tawhiuau on 10 June 2011.  Moana Hall is the community health worker.

Click here to read about the official launch of the Murupara rheumatic fever prevention project.

Toi Te Ora - Public Health Service has an overview role ensuring that the rheumatic fever projects remain co-ordinated and appropriately supported.


Heart Foundation 'Sore Throats Matter' Teaching Units

The Heart Foundation has developed teaching units for years 1-8 based on the NZ school curriculum's Health  and Physical Education plan.

The aim of the Teaching units is to increase awareness of rheumatic fever prevention to children and teachers in high risk populations of NZ.


Click here  for the Sore Throats Matter Teaching Units.

Click here  for the Sore Throats Matter Teachers Letter. 


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