Apunipima Cape York Health Council (Apunipima) was named as one of five Aboriginal Medical Services to share in $3.7 million funding from the Australian Government to target the prevention of Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF) and Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD).
The funding, to be delivered over three years, is an expansion of the Government’s Rheumatic Fever Strategy.
ARF is a contagious disease caused by a Group A Streptococcus infection. A painful and debilitating condition in its own right, ARF is a precursor to RHD. Rheumatic Heart Disease is a preventable condition that involves damage to the heart valves, causes a high degree of suffering and cannot be cured.
Australia has among the highest recorded rates of ARF and RHD in the world, and they are a significant cause of disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in rural and remote areas. The highest rates of ARF are found in children aged 5-14 years. The average age of death from RHD among Indigenous Australians is 40 years.
The Apunipima Rheumatic Fever Primary Prevention Project will work to develop and implement a range of prevention strategies for ARF and RHD. Educational, health promotion and social media resources developed as part of the project that will be utilised across Cape York, improving access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to culturally appropriate preventative messages around ARD and RHD.