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$100,000 for Rheumatic Heart Disease

A child with RHD undergoing echocardiography treatment

A child suffering from RHD undergoing echocardiography treatment

The Ministry of Health’s Fiji Rheumatic Heart Control Programme received a new lease of life after receiving a donation of $100,000 from the Fiji Water Foundation today.

The donation will be used to purchase a much needed echocardiography (echo) machine to help detect early cases of rheumatic heart diseases in children.

Studies have shown that 1 in 30 children in Fiji aged between 5 and 14 years suffers from this debilitating disease with at least 60 people dying from RHD every year at the average age of   33. Children as young as seven have also died from this preventable disease.

“It’s a tiring a disease,” RHD patient, Iliesa Rokkosoi tells maiLife. Rokosoi is among some of the RHD patients who are currently being monitored on their health progress. The 22-year-old was diagnosed with RHD  in 2010. “I started having the symptoms of  the disease when I was 15 years old, but at the time my family didn’t know what was the cause. I suffered incessantly from shortness of breath and had swollen joints. I was 19 when I got diagnosed.”

Iliesa recently had three valve replacement on his heart. He is currently recuperating and having his heart monitored. Fiji rugby sevens coach, Ben Ryan was among some of the sevens team captains who accompanied the Fiji Water  CEO, Rokoseru Nabalarua to  the Childrens Ward at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital before presenting the $100,o00 donation to the Ministry of Health’s Fiji RHD Control Programme.

Vicki Lee, CEO for Cure Kids says the early detection of RHD through echocardiography screening and the provision of antibiotic treatment can significantly reduce the mortality and morbidity of RHD sufferers.

RHD is a serious  chronic heart condition caused by rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever is caused by a preceding group A streptococcal (strep) infection. Acute rheumatic fever primarily affects the heart, joints and central nervous system. The major importance of acute rheumatic fever is its ability to cause fibrosis of heart valves, leading to crippling valvular heart disease, heart failure and death.


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