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Rheumatic Heart Disease Australia

RHD Resouces

Better Cardiac Care Measures

The Better Cardiac Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People Forum, a joint initiative of Australian, state and territory governments, was held in March 2014 and involved representatives from both the Department of Health and state and territory health departments. 

The forum’s role was to identify national priorities for action and high-impact initiatives for implementation to improve cardiac outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The post-forum report identified five priority areas for intervention and associated actions that health services should undertake to improve cardiac care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Better Cardiac Care Forum 2014). These five priority areas and actions recommended by the forum are outlined in Table 1.1

The indicators provide examples of higher rates of mortality and morbidity from cardiac conditions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and lower rates of in-hospital treatment services, than for other Australians. While there is some good news overall for the CVD indicators in that mortality from cardiac conditions for Indigenous Australians decreased significantly and access to cardiac care improved, ARF and RHD figures are not as encouraging.  It is worth noting that the majority of the data has been reported using NT register data.

There are 5 priority areas recommended by the BCC forum which jurisdictions are required to address one of which addresses ARF/RHD Priority 5: Strengthen the diagnosis, notification and follow-up of RHD

5.1 Make rheumatic heart disease and acute rheumatic fever notifiable conditions in all jurisdictions

5.2 Consider the creation of a single national rheumatic heart disease/acute rheumatic fever register

5.3 Explore options to link data from the rheumatic heart disease registry to the Patient Controlled Electronic Health Record or equivalent

5.4 Increase clinicians’ awareness and capacity to diagnose and manage ARF/RHD, in line with the current Australian guidelines for the prevention, diagnosis and management of ARF and RHD particularly in high-risk or endemic communities

5.5 Establish dedicated centres for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heart surgery and rheumatic heart surgery where appropriate, to enable centralisation of expertise and the development of culturally appropriate specialist support services

Please contact individual jurisdictional RHD Control Programs for specific information contained in this report.