Historic moment for rheumatic heart disease battle

A special update from our CEO

Historic moment for rheumatic heart disease battle

I woke this morning to the most incredible news. Late last night eastern Australian time the 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, unanimously adopted a resolution to end rheumatic heart disease (RHD) globally. This is an historic decision as it marks the first time that RHD has been recognised as a global health priority on the world stage. The resolution calls for a coordinated global response to tackle RHD.

It was also a proud moment for the government of Timor-Leste. Timor-Leste’s government representatives made a speech in front of the world in support of the resolution, reaffirming the government’s commitment to taking action on RHD. This commitment includes the announcement last month by the Timor-Leste Ministério da Saúde (Ministry of Health) to develop, by the end of the year, an action plan on RHD, in partnership with organisations including East Timor Hearts Fund and the World Health Organisation.

The government of Timor-Leste’s renewed focus on RHD follows the release last month of our landmark rheumatic heart disease prevalence study, which showed that Timor-Leste has amongst the world’s highest rates of this treatable, preventable condition. The study showed that one in 28 overall have rheumatic heart disease, and one in 20 girls.

I am looking forward to working with our friends the Ministry of Health, and our partners in Timor-Leste, to help put an end to the rheumatic heart disease in Timor-Leste. In the meantime, we continue to partner on preventative health and education initiatives, such as our penicillin program, and to identify and offer surgery for the most critical cases.

The World Health Assembly resolution is a great step forward – but it is just a first step. Now the hard work begins to ensure that this resolution is put into action.

Thank you for your support as we work together to mend broken hearts and put an end to the misery of rheumatic heart for our neighbours in Timor-Leste.

Stuart Thomson

CEO, East Timor Hearts Fund

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