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Alliance Health Plus: Leading the fight against Rheumatic Fever

“Absolutely brilliant” is what Lita Foliaki, Pacific Planning and Funding Manager- Auckland District Health Board (ADHB) describes the work being carried out by Alliance Health Plus (AH+) in their fight to reduce the alarming rates of Rheumatic Fever among Pasifika.

“We have seen our service grow to multiple events carried out throughout churches, schools and communities in Auckland. We believe we have found the formula for delivering successful communications to our people and getting them to understand and act upon the messaging around Rheumatic Fever” says Sinia Saafi, Team Leader of Pacific Integration Development Services (PIDS) team of AH+.

The strategy has seen over 12,000 reported individual participants involved in the innovation projects- not including thousands more who have heard through word-of-mouth about the key messages around Rheumatic Fever. The PIDS team encourage and work alongside schools, community groups and churches to provide funding on how to formulate, take ownership and lead events such as singing competitions, theatre or poetry recitals that suit their respective audiences on Rheumatic Fever education.

“Although we are all Pasifika, it is important to remember that we all have our own unique cultures and although the majority of us may be Christian we all have our o

wn specific denominations that we are a part of. Within this there is also the hierarchical element. So, it is vital that these aspects are recognised when encouraging our families and communities when health messages are being delivered” says Sinia.

The team have been targeting specific hotspot areas around the Auckland region where Rheumatic Fever rates are high, such as Kelston where one successful event attracted over 500 attendees from the local Samoan community and Papatoetoe where a Rheumatic Fever performance night saw 300 attendees gathering from the local Tongan community.

The projects have become such a hit with organisations that calls from as far afield as Taupo have been made requesting to be a part of the strategy. Requests such as this show that these projects are desperately needed elsewhere outside of Auckland in order to tackle the rates nationally.

The PIDS team of AH+ believe that with their past, current and future events they will be a big part of reducing the high numbers of Pasifika contracting the disease. Saveasoi Temukisa Amituanai-Andrews, the Rheumatic Fever Coordinator for PIDS says “I think we’ve found the key to getting the messages out there, understood and acted upon. We hope to open many more doors with this key and ensure that all Pasifika in New Zealand take action and responsibility to reduce the Rheumatic Fever rates”

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