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Rheumatic heart disease

Good news: Rheumatic Heart Disease is preventable!

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live with a disproportionate burden of rheumatic heart disease (RHD). This is often due to overcrowded housing and inadequate hygiene infrastructure. Untreated Strep A infections in the skin or throat can cause acute rheumatic fever (ARF), which leads to RHD. Children and teenagers are most at risk and can need monthly Penicillin injections for a decade to prevent heart damage. AHCSA wants to hear your views if you are a health professional, family member, or someone who takes care of Indigenous kids.

The SA Government has asked AHCSA to develop a Rheumatic Heart Disease Strategy to end the disease. We are working with housing, health and education sectors over the next year to improve responses to RHD and prevent Strep A infections.

If you would like to know more about this project or get involved please contact the Rheumatic Heart Disease Strategy Coordinator at AHCSA by emailing [email protected] or calling (08) 8273 7200.

Where do I find great RHD information?

RHD Australia holds a wealth of knowledge for Aboriginal Health Practitioners, nurses, midwives and doctors. Look into it.

The ARF/ RHD Guidelines are here and there is a link to the RHD Control Program in South Australia. https://www.rhdaustralia.org.au/south-australia

I work in community, how can I brush-up my knowledge?

Here are some free learning tools that are endorsed and accredited.

Where can I notify a case?

Acute Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease are notifiable cases to the SA Communicable Disease Control Branch (1300 232 272)

I am giving a talk about RHD, where can I find resources?

If you want infographics, videos, posters, patient stories, comics, apps, research it’s all here.  Some of it is in local language too.

 What is NACCHO doing?

NACCHO is also supporting efforts to stop RHD.

The Australian Government has committed $12 million to NACCHO over four years (2021-22 to 2024-25) to support Rheumatic Fever Strategy national coordination and implementation. NACCHO works alongside the Aboriginal Community Controlled sector to develop a new service delivery model for the prevention and treatment of ARF and RHD. This model will support community-controlled and community-led actions to address these preventable conditions which are strongly influenced by poor housing and the social determinants of health.

Watch this NACCHO portal for grants