Rheumatic heart disease

Queensland’s approach to ending acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease

Ending rheumatic heart disease in Queensland and achieving health equity for First Nations people is a key priority.

Acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) are prevalent in Queensland communities, cities, and towns at documented rates among the highest in the world. RHD is almost exclusively a disease of poverty and social disadvantage. It is seen most commonly in rural and remote First Nations communities, where households are affected by overcrowding. It is in these communities that the Streptococcus A Bacteria thrive and spreads, resulting in ARF the precursor to RHD.  While progress has been made over the last decade, ARF and RHD are likely to be under-recognised and underdiagnosed.

On 4 March 2022, the Honourable Yvette D’Ath MP, Queensland Minister for Health and Ambulance Services released the Ending Rheumatic Heart Disease: Queensland First Nations Strategy 2021-2024 (PDF 1624 kB) (the Strategy), which was developed in partnership with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Sector and through widespread consultation.

Building on the State’s first Action Plan 2018-2021 (PDF 1508 kB) to address ARF and RHD and aligned to the National Endgame Strategy, the new Strategy is evidence based and is informed by Queensland’s experience to date.

The new Strategy guides and frames the next steps Queensland Health and its partners will take to advance the vision of ending ARF and RHD in Queensland.

The five key priority areas of our Strategy include:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership
  • Community Based Programs
  • Healthy Environments and Primordial Prevention
  • Early Prevention
  • Effective care and support for those living with ARF/RHD.

The Strategy on a page (PDF 165 kB) provides an overview of how we will conduct our business.

Last updated: 4 March 2022