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First Peoples

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The cost of inaction on Rheumatic Heart Disease

The predicted human and financial costs of rheumatic heart disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 2016-2031
First Peoples health First Peoples housing First Nations children Cardiovascular diseases First Nations youth Rheumatic fever Heart disease Burden of disease Australia

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have some of the highest rates of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in the world.

This report – published by the END RHD Centre of Research Excellence (END RHD CRE), based at the Telethon Kids Institute – outlines the trajectory of acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and RHD in Australia until 2031, assuming only the current levels of funding and attention to these diseases: the cost of inaction.

Key findings:

  • There are currently 4,539 people living with rheumatic heart disease
  • If no further action is taken to address rheumatic heart disease, a further 10,212 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are projected to develop the disease or its precursor – acute rheumatic fever – by 2031. Of these people:
    • 1,370 will need heart surgery
    • 563 with RHD will die
    • $317 million will be spent on medical care
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