The fight against the crippling disease killing thousands of children in and around Katherine could see a welcome funding boost if Labor is elected at the upcoming federal election.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's funding promise highlights the need for community-led action on rheumatic heart disease (RHD).
The 2018 NT Australian of the Year and paediatric cardiologist, Dr Bo Reményi, has welcomed the commitment of $33 million over the next three years, as a life-saving intervention for a disease which is 100 per cent preventable.
"RHD is the greatest cause of cardiovascular inequality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this country - if we can't end RHD we cannot close the gap in Indigenous and Non-Indigenous health," Dr Reményi said.
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"RHD is almost entirely preventable, but Australia has some of the highest rates of the disease in the world, almost exclusively in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities."
Across Australia, about 6000 people are known to have RHD, and rates are increasing - an extra 300 people, mostly children, develop the disease each year.
Indigenous people are 64 per cent more likely to develop the disease, and nearly 20 times as likely to die from it.
Labor's multi-million dollar funding commitment marks a significant step in the quest to end RHD.
"Young children are being subjected to painful treatment and even open-heart surgery, and they are dying way too early," Dr Reményi said.
"This funding commitment rightly invests in local community-led on-the-ground action now to prevent and eliminate RHD.
"Over time, we will need more funding to end RHD - this will take many years and lots more action - but a national commitment to on-the-ground action now is what we have been seeking and this is a great start."
When it comes to RHD, both major parties are committed to the fight against the deadly disease.
Earlier in the year, the government promised $35 million to develop a vaccine.
In a joint statement from Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt and Mr Hunt, it was announced money from the Medical Research Future Fund would allow for the manufacture and testing of vaccines as well as clinical trials.
RHD starts with a sore throat or infected skin sores, the disease can cause arrhythmia, stroke and heart failure. It is chronic, disabling and fatal if left untreated.
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