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Rheumatic Heart Disease Australia

RHD Resouces

Social solutions and clinical knowledge keys to prevention - NT workshop

The 2016 Northern Territory Rheumatic Heart Disease Education Workshop, held in Darwin on the 20th and 21st October, was an opportunity to share information, knowledge and expertise. For the 100 health professionals who attended, the Workshop reinforced the need for both social solutions and clinical knowledge to end rheumatic heart disease in the Northern Territory and Australia.

The Northern Territory (NT) has long recognised rheumatic heart disease (RHD) as a significant public health issue. The NT RHD Control Program and register was the first established in Australia, nearly 20 years ago, and coordinates the care of approximately 2,500 patients on the NT RHD register. The workshop was an opportunity for Northern Territory health professionals (and a few from further afield) with experience of ARF and RHD to consolidate their knowledge,

“I loved every minute. All presenters were very informative, generous in their presentations professionally and some, emotionally. I realise at these workshops, I am on the right course and am always motivated to keep going with my own journey.” – 2016 workshop participant

For those new to the topic, clinical presentations were supported by practical activities and information about the RHDAustralia education resources.  Dr Thilini Basnayake, a Respiratory and Sleep Physician at Royal Darwin Hospital who attended the workshop, had this to say about the importance of educating those new to the Northern Territory:

“I think there is a definitely a need to educate doctors about ARF/RHD, especially in the NT. This is particularly important to staff who are moving here from other states or countries, who may not have come across these conditions before. The stakes are so high when the condition is misdiagnosed or inappropriately managed and for those reasons alone education is essential. I felt quite unprepared to diagnose and manage ARF/RHD when I initially moved to the NT and I hope the transition for future staff can be made more comfortable”.

Dr Basnayake was kind enough to sit down with RHDAustralia and talk about her own experiences and why workshops like these are so vital in educating health professionals.

The stories of people living with RHD are always a highlight of our education workshops.  This event was no exception. Two families, Eddie and Marita Masina and Cherie and Kenya McAdam, committed enormous time and energy in sharing their journeys. You can read their powerful stories on our family stories page.

Do you have a rheumatic heart disease story to share?

Those in attendance were motivated by Eddie, Marita, Cherie and Kenya to do more, learn more and advocate more for those living with this disease, and to safeguard future generations from the damage done by this devastating disease, which is characteristically a marker of poverty and disadvantage.

Oral storytelling is at the heart of Aboriginal and Torres Strait culture.  The stories of those affected by rheumatic heart disease – patients, families, communities – must be heard, they are a catalyst for action and inspire and inform improved practice. If you have or know someone with a story to share you can contact RHDAustralia at

RHDAustralia sincerely thanks all those who attended, presented and supported the events

A special thank you to Eddie and Marita Masina and Cherie and Kenya McAdam for sharing their stories.  We are grateful to the Hon. Natasha Fyles, Northern Territory Minister for Health for opening the workshop. Thank you also to Heart Foundation NT, the Northern Territory RHD Control Program, NT Cardiac and Royal Darwin Hospital Cardiac Care Services for supporting the workshop.

Workshop presentations, photos and news articles

Workshop presentations and photos

Aboriginal communities struggle with world’s highest rheumatic heart disease ratesABC News

Rheumatic heart disease wiping out generations of Indigenous Australians – NITV (Video) and (Article)

Rhuematic Heart Disease – an important infection among the young in aboriginal communitiesCentral Australian Aboriginal Media Association