The untold cost of Rheumatic Heart Disease RHD
What disease starts as a sore throat in children…
And ends with open heart surgery, stroke or heart failure?
Clue: It kills 1000 young people EVERY DAY
Clue: It affects 15 MILLION children & young people
Clue: It is 100% PREVENTABLE
We’ve recently had the honor of filming with a courageous and charismatic teenager from Darwin, Australia. We met ‘Liddywoo’ at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne on the eve of his third open heart surgery in 5 years. Liddywoo’s untreated ‘strep throat’ led to Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF) before advancing to Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD).
As a result Liddywoo’s life has been limited, his fragility and shortness of breath has inhibited his ability to participate in physical activities, like his beloved Australian Rules Football. His medical needs have compelled his family to move from the outback into the city.
Thanks to the remarkable efforts of Liddywoo’s carers in the Northern Territory and Victoria, today – after three major open heart surgeries – Liddywoo is on the road to recovery and can hope to play football again with his friends.
But he is one of the lucky ones, the costs of these interventions are astronomical, and frankly, unsustainable, even in a wealthy country like Australia. For the vast majority of children with RHD around the world, their lives will be both limited and shortened by the disease.
With the prompt and thoughtful treatment of ‘strep throat’ with antibiotics, ARF and RHD can be prevented. The solution starts in the home with families but must be supported by health systems structured to deal with the challenge.
RHD should be banished to the history books. Let’s not let it destroy one more life.
Education and Advocacy can Rid the World of Rheumatic Heart Disease You can help to raise awareness about this silent killer by following Take Heart.
Take Heart: The rid to rid the world of Rheumatic Heart Disease is a series of films, long and short, designed to put RHD on the global media and public health agendas.
The series gives voice to those living with RHD and bring this ‘invisible’ issue into the public eye. The powerful and intimate stories told by affected children, young adults and their families will be accompanied by important educational resources and information.
All communications activities provide tools for audiences to get involved and ‘do something’ to facilitate social action and generate meaningful positive outcomes for patients, communities and health workers touched by RHD.
The first one-hour film in the collection focuses on the situation in Australasia. This will be followed by films about the situation in Africa, Asia and Latin America. A collection of 18 short films will be released explaining what RHD and ARF is, how it’s treated, insights into living with the disease, as well as advances in preventive measures and vaccines.
To get involved, we invite you to pledge to host a screening of the first one-hour film, or to use in an educational setting. By registering this pledge, you will receive a free DVD (the first of four in the Take Heart collection) during 2014.
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Since you started reading this post, a child has been struck down by RHD.