Territory Stories

The Northern Territory Disease Control Bulletin



The Northern Territory Disease Control Bulletin


Territory Health Services, Centre for Disease Control


Northern Territory disease control bulletin; E-Journals; PublicationNT; Northern Territory disease control bulletin






Date:2007-06; This publication contains may contain links to external sites. These external sites may no longer be active.; Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).




Communicable diseases; Reporting; Northern Territory; Statistics; Periodicals

Publisher name

Northern Territory Government

Place of publication



Northern Territory disease control bulletin


v. 14 no. 2

File type





Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Northern Territory Government



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Citation address


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The Northern Territory Disease Control Bulletin Vol 14, No. 2, June 2007 26 The Acute Rheumatic Fever/Rheumatic Heart Disease Program - an update Keith Edwards, CDC Darwin Background The objectives of the Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF)/Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) Program are in order of priority To prevent clients who have had one attack of ARF from having another by giving them a 4 weekly injection of Benzathine Penicillin (Secondary Prophylaxis). This includes the timely monitoring of adherence by reviewing Community Clinic Benzathine Charts each month. To diagnose every case of ARF, record them on the register with their consent and to educate them about ARF, RHD and the need for prophylaxis. To educate health staff about the diagnosis and management of clients with ARF / RHD. To educate the community about ARF/RHD and the importance of secondary prophylaxis and also the contribution of living conditions and hygiene to causation. To classify clients according to severity of disease and recall them in a timely fashion for review echocardiography, DMO/GP review, physician/paediatrician review and cardiologist review as appropriate. Dental assessment and therapy are also included in the recall capacity. Funding The register based program has been funded largely by the Department of Health and Aging although the amount and timing has varied from year to year. Most recently in 2005, funds were provided through the Australian Government Sharing Health Care Initiative that allowed the employment of a full time nurse educator/ coordinator in both Darwin and Alice Springs. This initiative has helped break down barriers in rural communities, and combined with education and the recall systems of the ARF/RHD Register, help to give a better client service. The quality of education and the number of clients, health staff and communities has improved. We are fortunate to have been recently awarded funds at the same level for 2006-2007 and 2007 2008. This will support the ongoing development of the register as well as maintain the existing staffing. Staffing issues Staffing since Jan 2007 has undergone some changes. Although all staff members working in the RHD program remain enthusiastic and wholeheartedly supportive of the program objectives, the completion of contract for the Administrative Officer and the uptake of an alternative position of one part-time RHD Public Health Nurse in Central Australia has provided challenges. The coordinator in Darwin for the Top End Program has been unwell, which has necessitated her absence for some time, and we have been relying on temporary staff to continue the program. A submission to the federal government for Aboriginal Health Worker positions with the intent to expand the effectiveness of the program was not successful. At a recent TB/Leprosy workshop the TB/Leprosy Public Health Nurses were given a refresher course on ARF and RHD to enable them to assist with the program when needed. Policy Development A National Working Group has been formed by the federal government to review the need for a National ARF/RHD Program. It met for the first time in May 2007 and has a 6 month time frame to reach a conclusion. Ms Jenny Cleary is the NT representative for the Department of Health and Community Services (DHCS) and Professor Jonathan Carapetis of the Menzies School of Health Research is also a member. This group will provide feed back to the federal government and with the hope of a positive response to further support the ARF/RHD nationally including the NT program. The Register The ARF/RHD register is still in the process of being upgraded. Despite a lengthy interaction with the IT company Dialogue, the register

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