Rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in Africa
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.
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
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Date published: 2015-05-27
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