Heart disease study kicks off with humour and efficiency

An update from Dr Noel in Dili

Good evening all,

Today we began our long-awaited heart disease prevalence study in East Timor. Over five days we will be screening up to 1000 school children to establish the incidence of rheumatic heart disease.

The large team, includes nurses, admin and logistics, paediatric specialists and cardiologists Australia and Timor-Leste. We had enthusiastic support from the teachers and students of the school in Dili where we worked today.

A lot of work went into the planning for this operation, and it paid off in spades today. We screened 430 children in a highly efficient and good humoured operation. The team and the children enjoyed it.

For at least one young girl, this will have been a lifesaver. She had completely unrecognised, highly treatable, lethal valvular disease. Surgery can now be arranged.

Over time there will, of course, be many other benefits from today in public health planning and delivery.

But to have the prospect of saving a young life is a lovely bonus for the hard-working team.

We return to the same school tomorrow, then on to Letefoho in the hills in Ermera district, south-west of Dili, to repeat the exercise in a different demographic.

East Timor Hearts Fund is financing this prevalence study but it is only possible as a result of cooperation between a number of contributors in Australia and Timor-Leste, including RhEACH, Bairo Pite Clinic and St John of God Timor-Leste, also Pfizer, which is supporting us with a donation of penicillin.

Dr Noel Bayley

Honorary medical adviser


Photo credit: Susanna Rossi Photographs

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