First Combined Support Group Activity for People Living with Rheumatic Heart Disease and Their Caregivers

People living with Rheumatic Heart Disease (PLWRHD) and their family members successfully participated in the first educational and awareness program on the importance of adherence to secondary antibiotic prophylaxis to prevent further heart damage.

The Program jointly organized by the Samabula and Raiwaqa Health Centers in collaboration with KOICA provided an opportunity for PLWRHD to get together, familiarize themselves with the medical staff, share personal experiences and feelings, coping strategies or already mentioned experience about RHD and its treatment. It also helps them to motivate each other and help bridge the gap between solely medical treatment and psychosocial needs.

They also were further provided with firsthand knowledge on managing RHD individually. Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD), a chronic and infectious disease caused by Group A Streptococcus (GAS), is one of the common concerns to Fiji’s public health. According to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services statistics, one out of fifty children in every classroom suffers from RHD.

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RHD Liaison Nurse at Raiwaqa Health Centre, Ms Sweta Kapoor highlighted that it was important to recreate bonding between people who are struggling with the same disease. “While we once again encouraged patients to familiarize with their nurses and medical staff, we aimed to enhance awareness on RHD, to update patient’s injection records and for patients to share their experience in combatting this disease together.”

Ms Deepa Prasad also a RHD nurse at Samabula Health Centre highlighted that through this program, they are able to educate patients and their care givers on the importance of adherence to benzathine penicillin and clinical reviews as the most vulnerable age group that is 5 – 15 years old. The Health Ministry acknowledges the Korean International Cooperation Agency (Fiji Office) for their keen interest in financially supporting the programme.