In Practice

Asymptomatic rheumatic heart disease in South African schoolchildren: Implications for addressing chronic health conditions through a school health service

Maylene Shung-King, Liesel Zühlke, Mark E Engel, Bongani M Mayosi

Abstract


When new evidence comes to light, it compels us to contemplate the implications of such evidence for health policy and practice. This article examines recent research evidence on the prevalence of asymptomatic rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in South Africa and considers the implications for the Integrated School Health Programme (ISHP). RHD is still a major burden of disease in developing countries, and elimination of this preventable condition ranks high among World Heart Federation goals. If left untreated, it becomes a chronic health condition that individuals have to cope with into their adult lives. The ISHP regards the health needs of children with chronic health conditions, which include conditions such as RHD, as a key service component. However, the chronic health component of the ISHP is still poorly developed and can benefit from good evidence to guide implementation. A recent study to ascertain the prevalence of RHD in asymptomatic schoolchildren through mass screening affords an opportunity to reflect on whether, and how, asymptomatic chronic health conditions in schoolchildren could be addressed, and what the implications would be if this were done through a school-based programme such as the ISHP.

Authors' affiliations

Maylene Shung-King, Health Policy and Systems Division, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Liesel Zühlke, Department of Medicine, Groote Schuur Hospital and Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Mark E Engel, Department of Medicine, Groote Schuur Hospital and Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Bongani M Mayosi, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Full Text

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Keywords

Rheumatic heart disease; Asymptomatic; South Africa; Schoolchildren; Chronic health conditions; School health service

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2016;106(8):761-762. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2016.v106i8.10756

Article History

Date submitted: 2016-03-08
Date published: 2016-07-18

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