Professor Michael Baker

Public health researcher Professor Michael Baker from the University of Otago, Wellington has been awarded $1,196,974 to develop an optimal strategy for the rheumatic fever endgame.

Acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and its serious complication rheumatic heart disease (RHD) produce large ethnic health inequities and remain important causes of preventable suffering and death for Māori and Pacific New Zealanders.

There is a lack of agreement about the best mix of interventions to prevent ARF and reduce the health impact of RHD. This research will use a combined economic and epidemiological model to assess which interventions produce the greatest health gains for the same health resources.

Professor Baker will compare a range of interventions at the primordial (eg. income, housing), primary (eg, sore throat and skin infection treatment, vaccination), secondary (eg, improved ARF diagnosis, antibiotic prophylaxis) and tertiary levels (eg, better access to medical and surgical treatment of RHD).

New Zealand is investing significant resources in ARF and RHD prevention and control. This research will help ensure we achieve the best possible value for Māori and Pasifika children.

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