Initially, the Deadly Heart Trek was planned to tour across Australia in July 2021, from Cairns to Broome, in areas with a high burden of disease. When COVID- 19 hit, it was put on hold.
Several communities in the Northern Territory were still highly enthusiastic to invite the Trek team for a visit. After careful consideration of the COVID situation, it was deemed safe to make a medical and educational visit in 2021 from July to September. Dr Bo Remenyi led a small local NT medical delivery team and visited nine communities; five of these were in the Big River Region and four in the Barkly region.
2.9% of all children (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) had definite RHD. The World Heart Federation considers a community where more than 0.1% of children have RHD, to be a high burden of RHD.
We are pleased the Albanese Government has committed to more than double the funding for the elimination of RHD in Australia, increasing from $6 million to $13.5 million nationally. Only through national action and funding, can we make a difference in the lives of the thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with RHD, and meet our obligation to prevent and eliminate RHD by 2030 under the World Health Organisation’s 2018 international resolution, to which Australia is a signatory.
The RHD Endgame Strategy Report clearly outlines what needs to happen to both prevent people from developing ARF and improve the quality of life for those living with RHD. The Report called for an initial investment of $40 million over 3 years for Phase 1 implementation to establish the national implementation unit, invest in community-level action and support jurisdictional action plans. This investment is needed now as a minimum to meet its 2030 target.
The communities were sent a survey post the Trek, and unanimously they were all glad they had invited the Deadly Heart Trek to visit and would like them to come to their community again.
“It was amazing to have so many medical professionals visit our remote school in a coordinated activity that benefits and supports the health of so many students and community members. Thank you from the bottom of our happy, healthy pumping hearts!”
“The community here has limited access to services other areas in Australia consider normal. We are 7 hours from a Dr, a hospital, and many other types of health care. Every specialist who comes helps normalise health checks, preventative care, and helps the kids and families understand the different roles different health professionals play. This is so important, and these checks are potentially life-saving. We would welcome being part of the local team to support the next visit.”
“Deadly Heart Trek team saves lives.”
“Indi Kindi was proud to support the Deadly Heart Trek initiative. The DHT team collaborated with local community organisations and services to create a truly place-based approach to providing much needed RHD diagnosis and treatment, raising awareness and education for early identification and prevention for families in remote communities in the NT. Count us in to support your next visit!”