Rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in Africa

Antoinette Myrna Cilliers


The eradication of acute rheumatic fever/rheumatic heart disease (ARF/RHD) is a complex process that needs to be addressed at various levels. These include education of vulnerable communities about the disease, provision of easy access to medical care, and increasing the availability of free penicillin to treat group A streptococcal pharyngitis and for secondary prophylaxis against further attacks of ARF in patients with established RHD. Just as important is to address poverty and overcrowding, which are associated with high levels of ARF and RHD, as improvement in socioeconomic conditions has also been shown to promote the control of ARF. Improvement of economic circumstances in disadvantaged communities is therefore also an important component of the management of ARF/RHD. Until such communities are economically empowered, ARF/RHD will continue to be a problem despite interventions to control the disease. All these interventions may prove to be a challenge in some parts of SA and in countries in the rest of Africa. 

Author's affiliations

Antoinette Myrna Cilliers, Paediatric Cardiology Unit, Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa; Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Full Text

PDF (226KB)


Epidemiology; Rheumatic rever; Rheumatic heart diseasse

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2015;105(5):361-362. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.9433

Article History

Date submitted: 2015-02-01
Date published: 2015-05-27

Article Views

Abstract views: 5612
Full text views: 1803

Comments on this article

*Read our policy for posting comments here