Fiji Time: 11:50 PM on Friday 19 December

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Heart checks

Felix Chaudhary
Friday, May 02, 2014

ABOUT 20 health professionals from Australia, New Zealand and Britain are visiting rheumatic heart disease (RHD) patients and conducting echo-screening in the Western Division.

It is estimated that one child in every 30 in the country, aged between 5 and 14, has RHD.

Dr Rosemary Wyber, program manager RHD from the Telethon Kids Institute in Western Australia, said the group was also here to study how Fiji was tackling the RHD issue while conducting tests in rural settlements in the division.

"We've got a group of stakeholders in rheumatic heart disease, some are clinical doctors and nurses, companies interested in RHD and what we need to tackle it," she said.

"Fiji has done some excellent work in RHD control — like developing a national register — and this is an excellent chance to think about translating some of those lessons to other parts of the world."

Dr Wyber lauded the free surgeries conducted in Fiji by Open Heart International, which was also part of the visiting team, but added it was critical people got tested and treated early to prevent operations later on in their lives.

"The best case scenario would be preventing people getting rheumatic heart disease in the first place, treating sore throats with anti-biotics or by finding people who have got RHD by echo-screening and getting them on treatment like regular injections to prevent them from needing surgery in the future."