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N Z Med J. 1993 Sep 22;106(964):400-3.

Analysis of costs of acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in Auckland.

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Department of General Practice, Green Lane Hospital, Auckland.



This analysis aims to identify the direct costs of rheumatic fever and its sequelae to the Auckland Area Health Board and to describe the indirect and intangible costs to patients.


The annual cost was estimated using primarily 1987 data costed in 1991 dollars. The cost analysis was undertaken in five sections: (1) acute rheumatic fever admissions; (2) surgical admissions; (3) rheumatic heart disease related admissions (nonsurgical); (4) outpatient clinic appointments; and (5) secondary prophylaxis programme. Non hospital board direct costs and indirect and intangible costs are described. Ethnic distribution and subsequent economic burden were analysed for each section.


The total cost to the health board was estimated to be $3.60M. The management of chronic rheumatic heart disease accounts for 71% of the cost. Rheumatic heart disease related nonsurgical admissions cost $1,228,495 (34%), surgical admissions $846,235 (23%) and outpatient clinic appointments $490,060 (14%) respectively. Both Maori (30% of costs, $1.1M) and Pacific Island people (36% of costs, $1.3M) are disproportionately affected by this largely preventable disease. Of the total cost 13% is spent on coordinated secondary prevention programmes.


An energetic secondary prevention programme over 10 years to prevent recurrences and the development of carditis has only partially reduced the rate of rheumatic heart disease. A targeted primary prevention pilot programme should be actively considered.

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