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Rheumatic Heart Disease Australia

RHD Resouces

New Roadmap to Eliminate Rheumatic Heart Disease

Media Release by Department of Health

27 February 2018

The charting of Australia’s first comprehensive roadmap to end rheumatic heart disease (RHD) has begun, with the foundations laid at a roundtable of experts in Darwin, convened by the Indigenous Health Minister, Ken Wyatt AM.

“RHD and acute rheumatic fever take about 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives each year and many of these are young people,” Minister Wyatt said.

“The tragedy is compounded by the fact that RHD is almost entirely preventable, with many organisations, including Governments, grappling strongly with pieces of the RHD elimination puzzle.

“Now, through this roadmap we are determined to tackle the whole challenge and eliminate this disease as a significant Indigenous public health problem.”

RHD is damage to the heart valves caused by repeated bouts of acute rheumatic fever, which is an auto-immune reaction to untreated throat and skin infections. Poor living conditions make these infections and therefore rheumatic fever more likely.

Indigenous children and young adults in the Northern Territory are estimated to suffer from RHD at more than 100 times the rate of their non-Indigenous counterparts. The Kimberley is also an RHD hotspot, with two-thirds of all Western Australian Indigenous people suffering from RHD living in the region.

Read the full media release