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Pacific community groups are using innovative ways to deliver rheumatic fever prevention messages – from quiz nights and performing arts to sports events and t-shirt designs.
Eleven community groups in the wider Auckland and Wellington regions have been funded as part of the Rheumatic Fever Prevention Programme's Pacific Community Innovations Fund.
These groups – six churches, three community groups, one sports club and one performing arts group – were each awarded $25,000 after a formal tendering process late in 2014. The first activities began in December 2014, with the Mafutaga Faifeau Samoa church group in the Hutt Valley delivering rheumatic fever prevention messages at a Christmas Carols event that attracted hundreds of church-goers and also included a kilikiti (cricket) tournament.
Ministry of Health Chief Advisor Pacific Matafanua Hilda Fa'asalele estimates thousands of Pacific people have so far been exposed to the community groups' activities and rheumatic fever prevention messages, through face-to-face engagement or social media platforms.
"As a Better Public Services (BPS) initiative, through the Rheumatic Fever Prevention Programme, the innovations fund aims to harness the amazing resource and energy of communities, non-governmental organisations and the health sector, and to involve users in shaping and spreading innovation," Matafanua Hilda Fa'asalele said.
"The stark reality is that Pacific children and young people are about 40 times more likely than non-Pacific children and young people to be admitted to hospital with rheumatic fever.
"Mainstream approaches and models of care are sometimes less effective in appropriately addressing health outcomes for Pacific communities. The innovations fund provides the opportunity to try community-driven approaches developed and delivered by Pacific communities who understand the daily barriers faced by their families."
Fund activities will continue to be rolled out in the wider Wellington and Auckland regions until October 2015.
Events planned include: quiz competitions, rheumatic fever-related song, poster, speech and digital competitions, health promotion and train the trainer workshops, interactive drama workshops for children, community awareness raising at rugby and netball events, and promotional opportunities on community social media networks.
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