The National Hauora Coalition (NHC) and Counties Manukau Health raised concerns last week (25 February) about
misinformation spreading across social media about COVID-19 testing in schools.
That misinformation implied that schools were testing children for COVID-19 without parental consent and then removing
children from school who tested positive without notification. This did not occur.
NHC and Counties Manukau Health are now actively addressing the impact of that misinformation particularly on their Mana
Kidz programme. This programme provides a comprehensive school based health service including rheumatic fever
prevention, for 34,000 children every day. Both organisations are seriously concerned about the impact of this
misinformation on the Mana Kidz programme and more widely on other important health programmes.
In addition, details of staff working in the Mana Kidz programme are being published on social media platforms and staff
have received abusive phone calls and messages from members of the public who are not parents. NHC and Counties Manukau
Health have spent significant time reassuring schools and whānau, taking time away from providing essential services to
tamariki and whānau.
It is important that we hear and respond to concerns parents might have. NHC have been supporting the schools in doing
that by sharing factual information with all parents and contacting every single parent who has expressed concerns.
Health programmes such as Mana Kidz have been put in place to support our communities. The impacts of rheumatic fever on
our people are significant and long lasting. In New Zealand it has been estimated that ~160 people will die prematurely
from rheumatic heart disease each year.
Misinformation impacts are also significant and long lasting, interfering with the trust we have built up in our
communities over many years.
We urge whānau who have further questions or concerns to continue using trusted information sources such as Counties
Manukau Health or Mana Kidz via their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/manakidz.nz or
https://m.facebook.com/countiesmanukau.health.nz/), phone (0800 MK TEAM) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
About Mana Kidz
Mana Kidz is a free, nurse-led, school-based programme that provides comprehensive healthcare by registered nurses and
whānau support workers. The programme delivers care to 34,000 children across 88 South Auckland schools in the Counties
Manukau Health region. The programme started out as a Rheumatic Fever Prevention Programme and has grown to include
comprehensive health care. This includes health education, health promotion, vision checks, hearing checks, skin
infection treatment and management, hygiene and overall general health assessments. This programme is jointly funded by
Counties Manukau Health and the Ministry of Health.
About National Hauora Coalition
NHC exists to support whānau to achieve hauora. Our vision is mana whānau, whānau ora and we are a lead advocate for
hauora Māori (Wai 2687) through the Waitangi Tribunal Health Services Kaupapa Inquiry (Wai 2575). In our day to day
activities, we partner with a wide range of agencies, Iwi and industry groups to commission and deliver a broad range of
indigenously designed health and social services to improve health outcomes for Māori, achieve health equity and greater
social cohesion for the benefit of Aotearoa.