Two Indigenous health services in the NT have been successful in receiving funding to target Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD).
The Government has funded nearly $4.5 million to eliminate the RHD, with more than 6,000 Indigenous people living with the painful and prolonged disease.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion, said the expansion of the 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.
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“RHD 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,” Minister Scullion said.
Malabam Health Board and Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation will each receive $742,000 over three years to lead local pilot programs to combat RHD.
“Malabam Health Board will cover Maningrida and Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation will focus on the Yirrkala and Millingimbi communities in East Arnhem Land,” Minister Scullion said.
“Our Government recognises the vital role local Aboriginal Medical Services play in their community and we believe these organisations are vital to averting new cases of this preventable disease.” he said.
Minister Scullion said the new programs will help support 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,” Minister Scullion said.
“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.”
RHD is caused by repeated bouts of acute rheumatic fever, damaging the heart valves, which is an auto-immune reaction to untreated throat and skin infections.
Poor living conditions contribute to these infections making rheumatic fever more likely.
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