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RHD affects more iTaukei

Torika Tokalau
Saturday, June 07, 2014

MORE iTaukei families are affected by acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD).

This is the opinion of Dr Tevita Baravilala, CWM Hospital consultant and head of department at the cardiology section, given the number of patients with these conditions seen at the hospital.

Dr Baravilala said iTaukei people tend to take sore throat, the most common symptom of ARF, very lightly.

"It's the parents, sorry to say it, but parents tend to, especially iTaukei parents, trivialise their children's complaints," he said.

"They either tell them to man up or stop complaining so much, or just ignore it and then we end up with a serious condition like RHD.

"Generally speaking more iTaukei families are affected compared to Fijians with Indian descent. RHD is associated with hygiene and other socioeconomic factors."

ARF is caused by group A streptococcus, a bacteria commonly found in Fiji.

This is the same bacteria which causes skin diseases which, according to Dr Baravilala, are usually ignored.

"The bacteria is so common in Fiji, it's usually like the flu, mistaken for the flu. It loves to attack our throat and it doesn't just affect only the heart but the kidneys too.

"We find that it affects mostly young males. The predominant is mostly females with heart problems, compared to males. There ere a lot of young people, in the prime of their lives who are affected."

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