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Health: Rheumatic Heart Disease is preventable

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 Health: Rheumatic Heart Disease is preventable  

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The Hon. Minister for Health & Medical Services Mr Jone Usamate said that while recent research has shown that Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) is a common cause of death in the pacific, it is preventable through early diagnosis and targeted interventions.

This was revealed today at the launch of the next phase of the RHD Prevention and Control Programme at Novotel, Lami.

“Rheumatic Heart Disease is a common heart condition in Fiji. RHD causes significant morbidity, disability and mortality through childhood and into early adulthood. Recent research has shown that RHD is the most common cause of death for men aged in their 30-40s in Fiji, with death rates also high for teenagers”, said Mr Usamate.

Rheumatic Heart Diseases is caused by streptococcal throat infection which leads to rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever is an illness commonly seen in children and young adults in Fiji that can lead to heart valve damage.

The Ministry of Health & Medical Services has recently formalized its relationship with Cure Kids New Zealand as partners and co-founders on the next phase of the $5m RHD Control and Prevention Programme for Fiji.

Some of the key elements of the project to be undertaken over the next three years include training of health workers to identify and manage sore throats and skin infections, identify and manage ARF and RHD cases, capture key RHD data, integration with existing health information systems, and cost-effective low-tech interventions such as strengthening primary care treatment of sore throat and skin sores.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand Partnerships for International Development Fund is a major contributor to the Programme along with the technical support provided the by international RHD experts from the Centre for International Child Health at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute Australia and the Auckland District Health Board, New Zealand.