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Over 1000 Rheumatic Heart Disease Cases In The West

“A lot of our teenagers and 20-year olds are dying from RHD so even with 60 deaths, it’s quite a big number for the west,” Ms Ramaka said. 

Rheumatic Heart Disease Divisional Coordinator West Ana Maria Ramaka and Diabetes Fiji Programme Assistant Mitieli Saukuru. Photo: Salote Qalubau

Ana Maria Ramaka says more than 1000 Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) cases have been recorded so far in the western division.

The RHD divisional coordinator said the number of cases were nearing 2000 now with about 60 to 70 per cent of them being children.

This was during the two-day joint support group initiative with Diabetes Fiji and the Ministry of Health in Lautoka at the Punjas Childrens’ Park from May 18-19.

“When we say children, these are five to 15 years old who are primary school children and those entering high school,” she said.

“Every day we have new cases being diagnosed from school. Now we’re having school screenings in Suva. And we will roll that out in the west as it has started from January in the north.”

She said there were more than 60 deaths each year attributed to RHD nationwide.

“A lot of our teenagers and 20-year olds are dying from RHD so even with 60 deaths, it’s quite a big number for the west,” Ms Ramaka said.

“Children with RHD will first be diagnosed with Acute Rheumatic fever where they will present a sore thoat and joints.

“When children are not checked for having a sore throat, the bacteria that causes the sore throat ends up in the valves of the heart. For a person with RHD they have acute rheumatic fever firs, and so joint pains sore throat, fever are not treated they can end up with RHD.

“We’d like to thank the Ministry of Health, Diabetes Fiji, they were also part of our two-day event as well as Kontiki Finance and Fiji Water that provided cartons of water,” she said.

Cure Kids Fiji officer Erini Tokarua said her 16-year-old son was diagnosed with RHD at the age of five.

She said RHD was not a curable disease, however it was preventable.

“When my son was getting sore throats I didn’t take him to the health centre. I treated him with herbal, honey, lemon and ginger, but all sore throats not being treated led to Rheumatic fever where he was suffering from sore, swollen joints,” she said.

“I thought that’s what he was having until he couldn’t walk one morning and then I knew it was serious so I finally took him to the hospital and he was diagnosed with RHD.

“With RHD cases they look well, they feel well, so they think they don’t need it and so coming from a patient’s perspective,” she said.

Diabetes Fiji Programme assistant Mitieli Saukuru urged low-income earning parents of children living with diabetes to access services provided.

We provide care support for children in terms of the provision of syringes, and machines and also get engaged with a support group. We are based in Suva but our clinics are all around Fiji,” he said.

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