Australia has among the highest rates of Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) worldwide, especially amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.
Many of these young people face a lifelong treatment regime of monthly antibiotic injections and daily blood-thinning medication. Because of lifestyle factors, they often struggle to maintain this regime, meaning their long-term health is at great risk.
Between 30-40 youths with RHD per year travel from the Northern Territory to The Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne for surgery. Recent funding from Westpac Foundation will enable HeartKids to provide vital emotional and practical in-hospital support for these indigenous young people, and as a result help to ensure that they are well-informed and equipped to maintain their treatment regimens long term.
Our aim to improve the quality of life of this vulnerable group. Specifically, our primary objectives are to:
- Strengthen their social, emotional and physical wellbeing through provision of vital emotional, financial and practical in-hospital support
- Build resilience and emotional strength
- Provide easily accessible information and education so they understand their choices about living with RHD and the importance of maintaining their treatment regime
- Improve life outcomes and facilitate more independent, successful and productive lives