Rheumatic Heart Disease Community Awareness Project
The Stronger Communities for Children (SCfC) is a community development program in ten sites in the Northern Territory that focuses on achieving the best possible start in life for children. It supports safe and healthy communities, families and children and it ensures that local people are in control of local decision making on services and activities for their children. The program is supported by the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA).
Community Works has been engaged by Ninti One to support their work on the SCfC program since it commenced five years ago. In this example, the Ninti One SCfC team was invited by Mala’la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation in Maningrida to visit their community to help conduct impact assessments for an important initiatives supported by SCfC, the Rheumatic Heart Disease Awareness Project.
Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is damage to one or more heart valves that remains after acute rheumatic fever (ARF), where the heart has become inflamed. According to the Menzies School of Health Research, the incidence of ARF and RHD falls dramatically with improved living conditions and increased hygiene standards, along with better access to appropriate health services and penicillin-based medications.
In Maningrida, many people are working to improve local awareness of ways to prevent the disease. The purpose of our work was to measure what difference this awareness-raising work is making. To achieve that, we used participatory action research methods. We trained five people from Maningrida to conduct surveys and focus groups.