By Blair Inglis
This article is exclusive to the online Edition 3 of VARSITY Newspaper.
On the 1st of June 2017, the Executive Board of the World Health Organization recommended that a “Resolution on Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease”, be presented for adoption at the 2018 World Health Assembly. Following this, the South African Heart Association® acknowledged that this event will “mark the first time that RHD has been recognised as a global health priority on the world stage.”
Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) is the most commonly acquired heart disease in young people under the age of 25. It mostly begins in childhood as strep throat and occurs mainly in developing countries. Without treatment, this leads to Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF); an auto-immune condition where the body attacks host-tissues.
According to Professor Bongani Mayosi Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at UCT, South Africa is progressing in controlling and managing RHD. Cases of ARF and RHD have been falling in provincial paediatric units. Mortality has “fallen from 1.3/100 000 in 2001 to 0.7/100 000 in 2012” according to a publication from Professor Zuhlke at Red Cross Children’s Hospital. It is noted that among adults, “congestive heart failure due to RHD remains high,” at “(25/100 000/year) in Gauteng,” and is paired with a high fatality rate.
The outcome of the 2018 World Health Assembly in May will determine the extent of implemented funding, research and intervention for the prevention and treatment of RHD in healthcare programmes; both nationally and internationally.