Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) is a significant health problem and a leading cause of premature death in Fiji. Establishing a sustainable prevention and control program that is best-practice based is a challenge in developing countries.
The establishment of a program like the Fiji RHD Prevention and Control Program requires political will, leadership including expert technical oversight, funding, local program team and implementers. The challenge is in integrating and strengthening of existing health systems; and empowering people living with RHD.
Aligned to the 4 main pillars of the Fiji RHD Policy, Program activities include development of a unique Rheumatic Fever Information System (RFIS) linked to the MOHMS PATIS; best practice guidelines for Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF) and RHD; early case detection model; along with primary prevention and health promotion.
Results & Conclusion
The Program has observed upward trends in adherence to secondary prophylaxis at monitored sites in two divisions and a mid- term training review has reported high rates of knowledge retention among nurses trained in ARF/RHD. The RFIS whilst in its infancy has enabled better visibility of patients including movement of patients between clinics and patients who are defaulting treatment.
The Program has duplicated activities from other countries and developed innovative approaches to improve visibility and outcomes for people living with RHD. While all these innovations are yet to be analysed fully, a few will be presented.