The Health Ministry celebrates the passing of the Global RHD Resolution

In May this year and following two years of a high-level advocacy campaign led by the Governments of New Zealand and Fiji, the Resolution on Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease was officially passed by the World Health Assembly in Geneva.

This week, to co-oincide with World Heart Month, the Hon. Minister for Health and Medical Services and a group of 22 young people living with RHD came together to discuss the significance of the RHD Resolution to people living with the disease.

Ms Buli Wainiqolo, diagnosed with RHD in 2011, spoke at a side event to the World Health Assembly meeting in Geneva explained ‘I am proud of my Government for advocating for this Resolution and for investing in RHD prevention and control.   Fiji has one of the most established RHD programmes in the world.   Other countries with similarly high rates of RHD are looking to us for guidance.  I believe that the RHD Resolution will only encourage other Governments around the world to prioritise this disease especially in countries where it is common’

Ms Wainiqolo added ‘RHD is 100% preventable but for the many individuals in Fiji, like myself, who have this disease it can be managed’.

As part of a nationwide campaign the RHD Prevention and Control Program is encouraging parents and carers to ‘think rheumatic heart fever’ and seek medical advice when needed.  The Program has had success in recent years in improving the treatment delivery rates to patients by more than 100% across the country.  In addition, the Program has, as a world first, been task shifting early case detection, screening, for RHD in schools from medical officers to school nurses.  Because of the school nurse training 43-year students have been diagnosed with RHD in the Suva area in term two of this school year.     If RHD is picked up early enough and the child is placed on treatment they have a good chance of going on to live a normal and productive life.

The New Zealand Partnerships for International Development Fund is a major contributor to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services RHD Program along with Cure Kids New Zealand, Accor Hotels and the Fiji Water Foundation.