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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin

RHDAustralia: a national approach to rheumatic heart disease prevention and management

Date posted: 25 January 2010

The Federal Government has announced that it will spend $2.5 million to help combat rheumatic heart disease (RHD) and acute rheumatic fever (ARF), through the establishment of RHDAustralia, a new centre dedicated to prevention and management of the disease.

RHDAustralia has been established under the Menzies School of Health Research, in partnership with James Cook University and Baker IDI. Dr Jonathan Carapetis, Director of the Menzies School of Health Research, has been appointed as Director of RHDAustralia.

RHD is a preventable disease, usually associated with poverty, which is caused by a bacterial infection. Although RHD is virtually unheard of in non-Indigenous Australians, it is one of the major killers of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Patients with ARF or RHD can be treated with monthly injections of penicillin, but they need to be administered regularly for at least 10 years.

The launch of RHDAustralia will lead to better diagnosis and treatment of ARF and RHD through the establishment of a national database, which will inform decisions on management, monitoring and distribution of resources.


Laetitia Lemke
Communications and Development Manager
Menzies School of Health Research
Ph: (08) 8943 5018
Mobile: 0447 275 415
Fax: (08) 8927 5187


Last updated: 4 February 2010
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