Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of NSW

Rheumatic Heart Disease

Background – Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) is an autoimmune response to a bacterial infection with group A streptococcus, commonly called the strep bacteria. RHD is considered a disease of poverty and disadvantage, and yet Australia has some of the highest rates of RHD in the world. About 3-5 per cent of Aboriginal people living in remote and rural areas have RHD, and children aged between 5 and 14 years are most likely to get rheumatic fever.

The AH&MRC will work in collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to help reduce acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease. As a member of the END RHD Coalition, the AH&MRC will partner with leading organisations to eliminate RHD. The AH&MRC shares the understanding that only through Indigenous-owned, community-led strategies will we be able to successfully tackle the disease. By working in partnership with the communities most at risk of rheumatic heart disease we can all play our part to end RHD in Australia.

The AH&MRC Rheumatic Heart Disease Program delivers a range of activities including:

  1. Providing cultural expertise and relevant community consultation
  2. Providing input and advice to key stakeholders.
  3. Working with the ACCHS sector to identify, promote and support local solutions and strategies
  4. Educating and empowering the ACCHS sector workforce on the role they can play in ending RHD
  5. Promoting and educating the ACCHS sector on the use of the NSW Rheumatic Heart Disease Register



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