The Ministry of Health and Medical Services remains committed to making further progress towards addressing Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) in Fiji.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services has formalized its relationship with Cure Kids New Zealand as partners and co-founders on the next phase of the $5 million (approx.) RHD Control and Prevention Program.
The Hon. Minister for Health and Medical Services, Mr Jone Usamate said, “RHD is an area of concern as it often affects young people between the ages of 4-19. To address child mortality and morbidity, the Health Ministry and the Government, over the past 5 years, has developed programs to build capacity, strengthen health systems and improve care for our children and adults.”
The Programme has observed a significant increase in the number of registered patients over the period January to June 2015. This is the result of a national clinic audit being carried out by the RHD Program team.
The RHD Program has benefitted from a variety of innovative approaches and partnerships and the Health Ministry is grateful for the support received from the public and private sector.
Through this partnership, Mr Usamate said that the Health Ministry will be focusing on health system strengthening for RHD.
“Work is underway to ensure that our primary health care system is able to diagnose and manage rheumatic fever and RHD. An early case detection model is in development for implementation and we are looking at effectively managing and utilizing program data for further strategic planning in addressing RHD”.
The New Zealand Partnerships for International Development Fund is a major contributor to the Program along with the technical support provided by Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the Auckland District Health Board.
Since 2009, including the current program, Cure Kids Fiji has supported RHD activities through ongoing funding support from foundation key partner Accor Hotels and support from FIJI Water Foundation. Work on the Fiji RHD Prevention and Control Program has been ongoing since 2005.
Addressing this health issue is important as it affects many children as young as 5 years of age as well as adults. Overcrowded housing and poor hygiene are some factors that can contribute to a person’s risk of developing RHD.
RHD is a chronic heart condition caused by rheumatic fever that can be prevented and controlled. If a child has a sore throat it might be caused by Group A Streptococcal infection, often referred to as Strep throat and if not treated can cause Rheumatic fever. This can lead to long term damage to the heart.
Meanwhile, the RHD Program has moved office to the Wellness Center and is now part of the strategic work and activities of the Wellness Unit.