Local Action Funded to Eliminate Rheumatic Heart Disease

Five Aboriginal Medical Services and the Telethon Kids Institute will receive more than $4.6 million to target Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) hot spots across the nation.

Page last updated: 08 October 2018

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8 October 2018

Five Aboriginal Medical Services and the Telethon Kids Institute will receive more than $4.6 million to target Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) hot spots across the nation.

Expansion of the Government’s Rheumatic Fever Strategy would include practical environmental health hygiene activities and intensive health promotion measures to help combat both acute rheumatic fever and the associated RHD.

Rheumatic heart disease and acute rheumatic fever take scores of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lives each year, including young people who never get a chance to reach their full potential.

Our Government recognises the vital role local Aboriginal Medical Services play in their community and we believe these organisations are pivotal in averting new cases of this preventable disease.

Five Aboriginal Medical Services will share in $3.7 million over three years to lead local pilot programs to combat the disease.

These are the Pika Wiya Health Service in South Australia, the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service in Western Australia, the Apunipima Cape York Health Council in Queensland, and the Malabam Health Board and the Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation in the Northern Territory.

With two-thirds of the WA First Nations people suffering from RHD living in the Kimberley, the Telethon Kids Institute will also receive $950,000 over two years to establish an innovative END RHD Community approach across the region.

This will include local environmental health, Aboriginal health and project officers to coordinate community-led partnerships targeting rheumatic fever and RHD.

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.

The Telethon program will place a stronger focus on tackling environmental factors, to reduce transmission of the Streptococcus A infection associated with acute rheumatic fever.

While providing much-needed prevention services in the Kimberley, this program will aim to inform new END RHD campaigns that can be replicated, with local consultation, across the nation.

More than 6,000 First Nations people are living with RHD and the treatment can be painful and prolonged.

For young women wanting to have children, RHD can also cause significant complications.

These new programs will help underpin the Roadmap to Eliminate Rheumatic Heart Disease which is currently being developed.

Through this roadmap and the guidance of key stakeholders and experts we will eliminate this disease and improve the health and living conditions of thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now and into the future.

The Government is making a significant investment in RHD prevention, allocating $23.6 million to the Rheumatic Fever Strategy over the next four years.

The Strategy supports State and Territory based programs to register, manage and control acute rheumatic fever and RHD.

Media contact: Nick Way, Media Adviser 0419 835 449

Authorised by Ken Wyatt AM, MP, Member for Hasluck.

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