Rheumatic Heart Disease is a significant health problem in Fiji, and approximately one child in every classroom is living with Rheumatic Heart Disease in the country.
There is also confirmation that at least 60 deaths a year are attributed to Rheumatic Heart Disease in Fiji.
Cure Kids which is working in partnership with AccorHotels, the Ministry of Health and world‑leading Rheumatic Heart Disease experts from Australia and NZ, says the prevalence of the disease in Fijian children, aged 5 to 14 years, is 35.4 per 1,000.
Cure Kids says the goal is to expand and strengthen the existing Fiji Rheumatic Heart Disease Control Programme to include developing new models of care and prevention with the aim of reducing the number of cases.
The organisation says the disease affects one in 50 children in Fiji, yet is a preventable condition.
Fiji has one of the highest known rates of Rheumatic Heart Disease in the world.
Cure Kids is leading a national‑level, research‑based project, improving and building capacity across all aspects of Rheumatic Heart Disease control and prevention.
In June 2014, a four‑year partnership project commenced with the aim of preventing and reducing the impact of Rheumatic Heart Disease in Fiji.
The multi‑million‑dollar project was made possible as a result of joint funding provided through Cure Kids’ partnership with AccorHotels and Ministry of Foreign Affairs New Zealand Partnerships for International Development Fund.
Fiji Water Foundation has also generously provided funding for echo-cardiography machines which are critical to the delivery of the project.
Rheumatic Heart Disease is a serious heart condition that occurs following an attack of Acute Rheumatic Fever which can occur after a strong immune response to a throat infection caused by a strep throat infection.
If appropriate antibiotic treatment is not administered, inflammation of the heart can cause scarring of the heart valves resulting in significant morbidity and possible death.
In Fiji it is common for children to present to clinical services late – already with symptomatic Rheumatic Heart Disease – which means they are often too late for adequate treatment.
Cure Kids says as part of training for school nurses in Rheumatic Heart Disease screening, more than 1000 primary school students in Suva were recently screened for the condition.
Close to 1 in 10 were found to have suspected Rheumatic Heart Disease and will now benefit from enhanced clinical care because of early and accurate diagnosis enabled by the program.
They have also implemented the first online patient information system for Rheumatic Heart Disease, and approximately 3,000 patients across Fiji benefit from the system, allowing health professionals to monitor the treatment and care of patients as well as allowing for national‑level reporting.
They have also launched the ‘Heart to Heart’ Rheumatic Fever Awareness Campaign this month across the country, which will be led by people living with and affected by the disease.
It is to raise awareness about the signs of Rheumatic Fever and to encourage parents and carers of school aged children to seek care when needed.Listen to the latest news on our 5 radio stations Legend FM, Viti FM, Radio Sargam, FM96 and Navtarang.