The rheumatic fever: a dangerous threat of the future
By Elton Pila, translated from Portuguese by Jessemusse Cacinda
The rheumatic fever is one of the illnesses that kill more people across the globe, a dangerous threat for the future of humanity. This why, The World Heart Federation paid special attention in celebration ceremony of the World Heart Day. The event happened in association with MIHER, Ministry of Health and Heart Institute (ICOR) in Maputo.
Since 2000, the globe celebrates each 29th September, the World Heart Day, a date promulgated by The World Heart Federation and its objective is to call attention about the importance of the heart and alert about the risks of heart illness.
This year, The World Heart Federation chooses Maputo, the Mozambique’s capital city to celebrate the date and paid special attention on rheumatic fever, one of the most dangerous illnesses around globe which lost serious sequels on their victims.
Rheumatic fever has in many cases attacked school-age children and can spread to adulthood, Edna Lichucha, a physician at the National Institute of Health, who like the Mozambican Institute for Health and Educational Research (MIHER), the Ministry of Health (MISAU) and the Heart Institute (ICOR) have joined the cause of the World Heart Federation. “In our country, rheumatic fever affects more school-age children, mostly from 5 to 15 years old,” explains Lichucha.
Beatriz Ferreira, from the Heart Institute, a reference institution for heart disease, explains that 3 out of 100 children are victims of rheumatic fever. These are scary numbers, as this disease has been a major cause of child mortality.
Moreover, Edna Lichucha considers the symptoms of rheumatic fever to be treacherous, which ultimately harms societies that have no culture of seeking hospital care, which she says could result in tragedy. “After reaching the heart, one can always be sick,” he explains.
The WHF, MIHER, MISAU and ICOR, as they understand that “it is small that the cucumber should be twisted”, advocate awareness campaigns and civic education in the teaching units and it is for this purpose that they visited last October 3rd at The “Matchiki Tchik” Primary School in Maputo City.
The idea is to create a strategic partnership between health and education to mitigate heart problems. Beatriz Ferreira, by way of example, explains that the school is one of the crucial places for disease prevention.
This is one of the solutions to combat a disease that finds fertile ground in the poor conditions of the Mozambican health system, he said, noting that Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world.
But all is not lost as, according to World Heart Federation President Karen Sliwa, the treatment of rheumatic heart disease should be targeted, as at the Heart Institute, because of the level of sensitivity it requires. Karen Sliwa goes further and warns that the country must be alert to the development of new technologies, as this is the direction the world is going. “Video is a way of teaching children how to prevent disease,” he said.
According to the doctor of the National Institute of Health, Edna Lichucha, the Mozambican public health system is getting better, which does not mean that we should forget about health education. “In the pharyngitis phase, we have medicines that control the infection. When it spreads to the heart, brain, bones and various organs, successful treatment is possible. ”
In addition to medicines themselves, Mozambique has advances in the area of surgery, which could only be done abroad for some time, such as South Africa. “Several health facilities have the diagnostic capacity, but there are health facilities that perform surgical interventions” said Edna Lichucha.
A real testimony
Many people have joined this cause, among them rheumatic patients who have decided to dedicate their lives, making people aware of the dangers of heart problems, such as rheumatic fever.
One of them is Palmira Matisse, who has put on her agenda actions to raise awareness among communities, alerting them to the dangers of rheumatic heart disease.
Sick for over 5 years, Palmira Matisse is the leader of a group of educators, who are currently giving talks at Mavalane Hospital as one of the ways to get her message across.
Mavalane is just the first health institution covered, but getting to the hospital is not everything. According to Palmira Matisse, rural areas, for many reasons, some of which, linked to tradition, have become the most vulnerable, as they completely ignore the symptoms of the disease. “There is no knowledge about the disease, especially in rural areas, where they do not assume it.”
Also a volunteer is 65-year-old Elisa Simão, who has been a victim of rheumatic heart disease for over 3 decades. “I have been undergoing treatment for 30 years. Today I’m fine, but at first it was very difficult because I had no explanations about the disease” he explains.
Elisa Simão says that her fever was in a very advanced state, only a surgical intervention could relieve it. According to her, at this moment, there was martyrdom, feeling in the skin, the pain of being rheumatic sick, in Mozambique, a developing country.
The solution could be none other than emigrate, that’s how Elisa arrived in neighbouring South Africa, after a very demanding process: “I had the valves destroyed, it was serious for the family, it required a lot of money. But I had surgery in South Africa, from there I have had a positive life, thanks to the treatment