Rheumatic Heart Disease

Finding and treating those children most at risk

Enabling early detection and access to treatment

Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is a serious disease involving permanent damage to the heart valves after a person has acute rheumatic fever (ARF).

Severe RHD can lead to conditions such as heart failure, stroke, disability and premature death. It most commonly affects children and young people and the effects can be lifelong. Timor-Leste has one of the highest rates of RHD in the world. 

RHD is preventable with early detection and access to treatment.

We are currently supporting the Ministry of Health by promoting early detection and running the national database of RHD patients, helping manage the 434 current patients living with RHD in Timor-Leste. A treatment program can last up to 10 years.

A patient receiving their treatment of penicillin

What are we doing?

Screening For RHD

We promote early detection of RHD through screening and access to echocardiograms.

In 2022

We helped 434 patients access life saving penicillin

Supporting access to treatment

Every week our nurses collaborate with Ministry of Health doctors and nurses to ensure access to life saving penicillin. 

In 2022:

We helped 116 children with RHD access penicillin

Develop national guidelines

We created the guidelines that the Ministry of Health has now adopted as their official RHD guidelines.

They are being used to help model a new national program which includes training of healthcare workers to give penicillin injections, and managing the diagnosis and treatment of RHD patients.

In 2022:

We developed guidelines for the use of less painful Benzathine Penicillin G

Training and Mentoring

Using our approved RHD guidelines we are working with the Ministry of Health to  to implement RHD training for doctors and nurses across Timor Leste.

This training will improve early detection and access to appropriate care including life saving antibiotics

In 2022 we:

Delivered RHD training in five municipalities

Cardiac Clinic

Working with East Timor Hearts Fund we provide Cardiac Clinics that give  patients access to  the same quality of expertise that is available in Australia, but with local cultural considerations. 

The Clinics are currently held via video conferencing.

in 2022 we:

Ran 4 cardiac clinics

Referral to surgery in Australia

 When a patient is identified as needing surgery because of RHD, we help with visas, logistics and ensuring that the patient has smooth transport.

We do this incredible work  in partnership East Timor Heart’s fund.


So far we have:

Supported more than 20 RHD patients to get surgery in Australia

Community Engagment

Our team works with local health staff to build community awareness and engagement. This is critical to promoting RHS action 

We will:

Launch our first event in 2022

How your donation helps

A little goes a long way to improving health in Timor-Leste
Benzotine Penicillin


The cost of a benzocaine penicillin dose from Australia. Benzocaine is less painful for the patient than the currently available powdered penicillin.

RHD Doctor


Covers the cost of a local doctor in our RHD mentoring program.

RHD Nurse

$650 /m

Covers the cost of the salary for one of our  RHD nurses.

What's next?

Grow our current RHD program to give the gift of good health to even more children. 

It currently costs around $100,000 a year to provide the current RHD service. 

In the future we would like to further develop training on the national guidelines, fund an echocardiography training (with Menzies School of Research)  program, support research and develop audio-visual community education resources. 

Who we work with on this program?

Timor-Leste Ministry of Health
East Timor Hearts Fund
Menzies school of health research
Little Lives

The rheumatic heart disease team

Scott Andrews

Scott Andrews

RHD & HPD Mentor