CHEERS TO GOOD HEALTH

HEALTH MINISTRY LAUNCHES RHEUMATIC FEVER INFORMATION SYSTEM

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services, is pleased to announce the achievement of several key milestones as part of its commitment to preventing and controlling Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) in Fiji.

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The most recent of these is the launch of the National Patient Information System for Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease, which was formally launched this afternoon by the Minister for Health and Medical Services, Hon Jone Usamate, at the Novotel Hotel in Suva.

The national information system allows doctors and nurses to record the injections received by patients and identify patients who miss injections allowing at-risk patients to be followed up on by health workers.

The system was developed by Datec Fiji Ltd following extensive consultation with health workers and local RHD experts. The system is modelled on international best practise in RHD patient management systems.

The Minster for Health & Medical Services Hon. Jone Usamate said “There are many barriers to patients receiving their injections, and this new National Patient Information System for RHD will be one of a number of activities aimed at improving management and support to patients, especially patients who are missing, or stopped going to the clinic for regular treatment.”

The launch of the system follows a national RHD stakeholder meeting taking place this week to discuss and progress other aspects of the RHD Program including the early detection of RHD cases and the recently developed clinical guidelines for rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease.

“These significant milestones have come as a result of large-scale investment and Ministry commitment to strengthening the RHD response including improvements in patient care and support as well as strategies aimed at increasing awareness about the link between sore throat and rheumatic heart disease,” said RHD Control and Prevention Project Lead, Liz Kennedy.

RHD is a common yet preventable heart condition, causing significant morbidity, disability and mortality through childhood and into early adulthood. Recent research has shown that RHD affects as many as 1 in 20 children aged 5-15 in Fiji.

Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory disease that begins with an infection in the throat and Rheumatic heart disease is a complication of rheumatic fever in which the heart valves are damaged.

Young people with a history of rheumatic fever or existing RHD are at a high risk of recurrent bouts of rheumatic fever, which may further damage the heart. An important priority of the RHD Program is preventing additional rheumatic fever infections, particularly in children through a regular penicillin injection every month.

Meanwhile, the RHD Program has benefitted from a variety of innovative approaches and partnerships and the Ministry of Health is grateful for the support received from the public and private sector. Since 2009, Cure Kids has supported RHD activities in Fiji through ongoing funding from foundation key partner Accor Hotels and support from FIJI Water Foundation who also provided specific funding for the Patient Information System.

The New Zealand Partnerships for International Development Fund is a major contributor to the current phase of the Program along with the technical support provided by Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the Auckland District Health Board.