Apunipima Leading the Way on RHD Awareness and Prevention

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One of the key health issues in communities around the country right now is Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) and it’s a crucial area of focus for Apunipima.

RHD is a leading cause of serious illness and death in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly young people, and Apunipima’s RHD Prevention Project is aimed at decreasing the rates of ARF and RHD in Cape York communities.

RHD was in the news recently following the death of an 18-year-old Doomadgee woman (you can read the story and watch the 4-corners report here).

“RHD is a completely preventable disease, and to see so many families and communities here in the Cape affected deeply by this is just heartbreaking,” said Apunipima’s CEO, Debra Malthouse.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have the highest reported rates of ARF and RHD in the world. This is Australia, this should not be happening here,” Debra said.

“The loss of any young person shakes families and communities to the core, and for so many young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in community to be seriously ill, or tragically passing away from a preventable disease is just not something we’re prepared to accept.

Apunipima works with Queensland Health in the detection and treatment of RHD, and the related illness, Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF). On top of assisting clients to treat the conditions, our dedicated team are very focused on prevention, which is the ideal outcome in the long-term battle against ARF and RHD.

“We work with community members to develop messaging, deliver community-based education in schools, provide resources and training, and work with communities to support healthy living environments. We’re doing everything we can to support this fight with the resources we have,” Debra said.

“This is not just a health issue. It requires a coordinated and collaborative response to address the social and environmental factors that result in preventable health conditions, like RHD.”

It’s important to remember that RHD can often be prevented by regularly washing hands and body, keeping cuts and scrapes clean and covered and going to the clinic for sore throats or skin sores.

More info about ARF and RHD is available at the RHD Australia website.

Keep watch for the signs of RHD in yourself and mob because Our Health is In Our Hands!

IMAGE: Apunipima’s RHD team member, Emily Turner, teaching a young Mossman Gorge community member about good hygiene