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Leading health organisations form new coalition to tackle RHD in Australia

02 December 2016
Michael Gannon, President of the Australian Medical Association at the recent launch of the AMA report card on rheumatic heart disease
@ama_media / Twitter

Six leading health organisations have joined a new coalition to end rheumatic heart disease in Australia.

The END RHD Coalition brings together as founding members the Australian Medical Association, Australian Heart Foundation, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), RHDAustralia, Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) and the Centre for Research Excellence to End RHD (the END RHD CRE) based at the Telethon Kids Institute. Other organisations will be invited to join in due course.

Telethon Kids Director and head of the END RHD CRE Professor Jonathan Carapetis said the new coalition was a major step forward in tackling a condition that disproportionately affected Indigenous Australians.

"Rheumatic heart disease is an entirely preventable, yet devastating condition," Professor Carapetis said. "It is caused by a simple bacterial throat infection, which left untreated can result in permanent damage to the heart, heart failure and stroke.

"Internationally, rheumatic heart disease is a disease of developing nations, yet in Australia we have some of the highest rates in the world, occurring almost exclusively in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population."

"One in 43 Indigenous people living in remote and rural areas have rheumatic heart disease. This country has the largest disparity in cardiovascular disease outcomes in the world and it is simply unacceptable."

"RHD is a disease of poverty, overcrowding and inequality and addressing these issues is essential. We need new solutions to prevent and treat the infections that lead to ARF and RHD, and to reduce suffering and death from RHD itself, but we will only be treading water if we don't also address the key social determinants of the disease."

"The END RHD CRE is a nationally funded research collaboration that aims to identify a set of costed, stepwise, evidence based interventions to end the disparity in rheumatic heart disease once and for all," Professor Carapetis said.

The Coalition will be the critical link between the research of the END RHD CRE and the health workers, families and organisations that will do the hard work to end RHD in Australia. Together, the Coalition partners will recommend immediate actions, as well as to develop a complete Endgame Strategy to be presented to Government in 2020.

"The new Coalition recognises the importance of diverse stakeholders in finding solutions to inform the National Endgame Strategy," Professor Carapetis said.

'This coalition complements our research agenda to ensure that the Endgame Strategy is practical, acceptable and appropriate to communities, clinicians and government'.

The END RHD Coalition was announced at the launch of the Australian Medical Association Report Card on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health on rheumatic heart disease in Darwin.

For further information:
Telethon Kids Institute | Press release
Australian Medical Association Report Card on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health on rheumatic heart disease