We believe that in Timor, 3% of children (about 10,000 children – almost one in every classroom) are at serious risk of rheumatic heart disease. Despite modelling data that suggests that rheumatic heart disease is one of the top 25 causes of years of life lost in Timor-Leste, a formal national programme does not currently exist.

Without diagnosis and treatment, thousands of children will develop heart failure and die in adolescence or early adulthood, particularly during pregnancy. These early deaths, from an entirely treatable disease, completely shatter families and communities.

In co-operation with other agencies, the Maluk Timor team has developed a screening program that can identify children with the early signs of rheumatic heart disease, before they even realise anything is wrong. Once identified, patients can then move into monthly penicillin treatment to prevent the progression of the disease, keeping children healthy into a normal adulthood and full life expectancy.

In 2018, one of the early programs that screened around 2,000 children detected 54 children at risk. These children are now being treated with the most severe cases sent to Australia for life-saving surgical treatment.

Thousands more children are yet to be screened.

The Maluk Timor team have been training 12 local Timorese nurses and junior doctors who can now carry out this work.

The only roadblock is a sufficient amount of funding to tackle the next phase of this project which will cost AUD$54,000 in 2020. This funding will enable the local team to screen another 12,000 children and is likely to identify nearly 400 children at risk.

We ask for your gift toward this life-saving effort that gives each patient an excellent chance at the full and productive life they deserve.

If you can, please give to support this program because without it, we already know that thousands of children are at risk from a treatable disease that doesn’t even rate a mention in Australia.

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