Mending broken hearts: Putting an end to rheumatic heart disease in Timor-Leste

Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) affects up to 3% of school children in Timor-Leste – almost one in every classroom. Many of those children will develop heart failure and die in adolescence or early adulthood, particularly during pregnancy.

Can you imagine the devastation caused by this disease in thousands of families in Timor-Leste?

Rheumatic Heart Disease in Timor-Leste

Despite modelling data that suggests that RHD is one of the top 25 causes of years of life lost in Timor-Leste.

A formal national programme does not currently exist

%

of children have signs of rheumatic heart disease

%

remission rate with regular penicillin injections to the age of 25

We want to find and treat the children of Timor Leste who are at most at risk.

Together we will banish rheumatic heart disease from Timor-Leste.

 

How Maluk Timor is helping prevent Rheumatic Heart Disease

1. Working with our partners

We are informing communities and clinicians about rheumatic heart disease and what is required to prevent the onset of the disease.

Defence against RHD starts with simple steps such as basic hygiene and treatment of throat and skin infections.

2. A New Screening Program

We’ve developed a screening program that can identify children with the early signs of rheumatic heart disease, before they even realise anything is wrong.

The program is an extension of the Pedrino Program, run by the Menzies instute,  which is tackling the disease in indigenous Australian communities.

Maluk Timor staff and volunteers working with Menzies Health in Darwin training the team on how to detect rheumatic heart disease using mobile echocardiogram machine.

3. A program of penicillin

We’ve built a program of delivering monthly penicillin treatment to affected children to prevent the progression of the disease, to keep the children healthy into a normal adulthood and full life expectancy.

We identify the severest cases and arrange for life-saving surgical treatment in Australia.

This whole program is being built as a model for the Timorese government to adopt and expand to cover the entire nation.

Some of the Student’s Patient from Ermera Letefoho Timor Leste, think  that Rheumatic Heart Disease is a new disease for us in Timor Leste. We never heard and know that these country has these disease. With the information from Australian doctors  we now know of these disease, we think the screening very important for us in Ermera School’s  because there’s good reason of way to detect  the proportion of student’s affecting by RHD in Ermera, secondly we would like to express our whole thanks to the donors and doctors from Australia for penicillin support that been safe our life in Timor Leste.’

Latest news from our rheumatic heart disease program

Hearts and Minds

April was a breakthrough month in Timor-Leste with respect to one of her most crippling conditions: rheumatic heart disease. Rheumatic fever is something you might read about in a Victorian romance novel, but in Timor (and northern Australia) it is a devastating...