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Rheumatic Heart Disease: from Molecules to the Global Community – Summary of Day 1

14 January 2017

From 13-16 January, RHD Action is participating in ‘Rheumatic Heart Disease: from Molecules to the Global Community’, a conference on rheumatic heart disease held in Cairo, Egypt.

Co-organized by the Aswan Heart Centre and the Pan-African Society of Cardiology (PASCAR), the meeting includes presentations and seminars on topics such as secondary prevention programmes, genetic and geographic determinants of rheumatic heart disease (RHD), cardiac surgery and RHD vaccine development. Participants will also hear case study presentations from countries as diverse as Namibia, New Zealand, Egypt and Guatemala.
PASCAR meeting on AU Communiqué
On the first day of the meeting, PASCAR working groups provided updates on progress towards implementation of the AU (African Union) Communiqué. This continental declaration – endorsed by all African heads of state – represents a framework to eradicate rheumatic fever and RHD on the African continent. Each working group focused on one of the 7 key actions in the Communiqué, and outlined their achievements to date and challenges they had faced.

Participants noted the need for stronger engagement from governments, health worker training, more stable supply chains for Benzathine Penicillin G (BPG) in settings where shortages occur, as well as concerns about BPG quality, and better communications and advocacy to policy makers and people living with RHD.
These updates were followed by two further presentations: the first was delivered by Dr. Aidan Long from Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School. Dr Long addressed the utility of penicillin allergy skin testing in secondary prevention programmes for the administration of BPG. Prof Mark Engel – from the University of Cape Town – then discussed the possibility of establishing a WHO Collaborating Centre on non-communicable diseases, with a special focus on rheumatic fever and RHD.
The meeting concluded with a panel discussion as each of the working group leaders set out their priorities for the coming year.

To read more about ‘Rheumatic Heart Disease: from Molecules to the Global Community’, please look out for updates via Twitter and on our website.