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Update on the WHF Rheumatic Heart Disease Taskforce

Following the unanimous adoption of the WHO Resolution on Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease in May 2018, and in response to member feedback on priority activities, a WHF Rheumatic Heart Disease Taskforce (RHDTF) was established in June 2018 to take targeted actions to contribute to the implementation of the Resolution.  The second meeting of the taskforce working group took place on Sunday the 26 August in Munich alongside the European of Society Cardiology congress.  Chaired by WHF President-Elect Prof Karen Sliwa-Hahnle, this meeting focused on further advancing work on focus areas identified as key, by our members, to implementing the resolution: policy and advocacy, prevention control and medical management and access to cardiac surgery.

The taskforce has been split into three expert groups based on expertise:

The Access to Surgery group of the RHDTF is led by Professor Peter Zilla, a cardiothoracic surgeon based in Cape Town and longtime champion of RHD. Peter heads up the first ever global coalition of cardiothoracic societies dedicated to RHD, the Cardiothoracic Surgery Intersociety Alliance (CSIA) who, alongside the WHF RHD Taskforce shares the joint mission to develop and implement an effective strategy to address the scourge of RHD in low income countries through access to life saving surgery. The CSIA, aims to establish pilot surgical centers with the goal of capacity building for RHD surgery in low income countries.

The Policy and Advocacy group of the taskforce is concentrating its efforts on narrowing the treatment gap for RHD, in large part due to access and administration issues surrounding Benzathine penicillin G, currently the most efficacious medication for secondary prevention of Rheumatic fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease.

The Prevention and Control group will focus on supporting pilot projects which aim to tackle RHD at a more local level.

The next meeting of the RHD Taskforce will take place alongside the WCC in Dubai on the 7th December 2019. If you are interested to know more about the RHDTF activities or to attend the next meeting please contact kate.ralston@worldheart.org.