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About

RhEACH is a technical support and policy translation initiative to amplify rheumatic heart disease control efforts locally, regionally and globally. We aim to identify, describe and disseminate solutions for this neglected disease and to reduce burden on vulnerable populations around the world. As a collaborative organization, we partner with a broad range of stakeholders - including clinicians, other disease communities, academics, funders, governments, industry and people living with RHD - to achieve our common goals. Global control of RF and RHD is eminently achievable. Comprehensive register-based programs have already effectively reduced the burden of RF/RHD at a reasonable cost in disparate geographic settings. The drugs and technology needed for successful control programs date from the 1950s yet remain inaccessible to many in need.  Freeing  young people from RHD and its complication of heart failure, arrhythmias, stroke and endocarditis could be achieved with existing knowledge.

RhEACH is a founding partner of RHD Action - a coalition of global organizations leading the movement to reduce premature mortality from RHD and contributing to both the World Health Organization 25X25 goal and the World Heart Federation. 25x25<25 goal. The founding partners of RHD Action include Medtronic Foundation, the World Heart Federation and RhEACH. The RHD Action global partners work together to establish a scientific and technical support community available to all countries, draw on this technical knowledge to advocate for policy change for better heart health, support and empower all people living with RHD and to foster multi-sectoral partnerships to support and sustain the global movement. Collectively, RHD Action is committed to work at local, national and global levels to end death and disability from this preventable disease in the world’s most vulnerable communities.

 

RhEACH Team

Professor Jonathan Carapetis holds separate qualifications as a medical practitioner (MBBS), specialist paediatric physician (FRACP Paediatrics), specialist infectious diseases physician (FRACP Infect Dis), and specialist public health physician (FAFPHM), as well as a PhD. Between 1994-98 he conducted doctoral studies at the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin into group A streptococcal diseases in the Aboriginal population, under the supervision of Bart Currie and John Mathews. This work translated into important public health interventions, including the establishment of Australia's first rheumatic heart disease control program in the Top End.

Returning to Melbourne in 1999, Professor Carapetis co-founded (with Prof Kim Mulholland) the Centre for International Child Health at the University of Melbourne Dept of Paediatrics. The Centre has since been recognised as the only Australian WHO Collaborating Centre in Child Health.
 
Professor Carapetis has been a Chief Investigator on grants worth more than $20 million since 2001, including three NIH grants, an NHMRC Centre for Clinical Research Excellence, and numerous NHMRC project grants. He was holder of an NHMRC Career Development Award and was granted the 2001 Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases / Glaxo SmithKline Award for Advanced Research in Infectious Diseases.
Jonathan was Director of the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin until June, 2012, encouraging new directions for research, including the links between education and child health. In July, 2012 he took up the appointment of Director of the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Subiaco, Western Australia.
 
He has written numerous textbook chapters on rheumatic fever, has been an invited speaker at more than 30 national and international conferences, and has over 100 peer reviewed publications. Professor Carapetis' wide range of research interests include group A streptococcal and pneumococcal diseases, other vaccine preventable diseases, vitamin D deficiency in refugees, and urinary tract infections in children.

Dr David Watkins completed his undergraduate studies in science before completing his MD at Duke University and his residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Washington. David holds an international appointment as a research associate at the University of Cape Town. He recently completed his Masters of Public Health in Global Health focusing on health metrics and evaluation through the University of Washington.

Sophie is an epidemiologist with over 10 years’ experience in operational health research and public health programs in low and middle income countries.

Sophie joined RhEACH in May 2017, based at the World Heart Federation in Geneva. She brings extensive experience in working with governments and development partners on operational research, public health program implementation and evaluation, and provision of technical support.

Prior to joining the RhEACH team, Sophie worked with the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, where she was an investigator on grants totalling over $10 million from funding agencies including the GAVI Alliance and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She was based in the Philippines during 2009-10 as Country Manager for a multi-country Gates Foundation-funded activity supporting the use of local evidence to guide prioritisation and planning for maternal and child health. More recently, she co-led an evaluation of the impact of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine introduction in Mongolia. In 2014, she completed the final evaluation of the DFAT-funded Pacific RHD program. Sophie has worked extensively as a consultant to the UN and other agencies in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and has an ongoing role with the WHO's Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals working on typhoid surveillance.

Dr Liesl Zühlke graduated from UCT Medical School and then qualified as a Paediatrician at the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital in Cape Town. She trained as a Paediatric Cardiologist in Cape Town and Dusseldorf, Germany. Her particular research interest is Rheumatic Heart Disease and echocardiographic screening in asymptomatic schoolchildren.

She feels passionately that Rheumatic Heart Disease, a preventable chronic disease of childhood, can be controlled in developing countries using a multi-pronged approach. She recently graduated with her Master's in Public Health and is currently a Doctoral Fellow within the ASAP programme. She was a member of the local organizing committee of the 6th World Congress of Paediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery in Cape Town in 2013. She is married to Alexander, a plastic surgeon and they are proud parents of two wonderful boys, Gabriel and Eli.

Dr Rosemary Wyber is a New Zealand medical graduate who completed her Masters of Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health in 2013. Rosemary developed a passion for improving RHD control while undertaking a year of clinical work in the developing Pacific Island country of Samoa.

She has continued her research and policy interests in RHD throughout clinical posts in New Zealand and Indigenous communities in remote Australia. Rosemary completed an internship in RHD at the World Heart Federation and previously worked as the Program Manger for RHD at the Telethon Kids Institute and has previously served as the Deputy Director of RhEACH. Rosemary is currently completing training in primary care and is the Senior Technical Advisor of RhEACH.

Timothy Johnson brings a unique international development perspective to the RhEACH team and more broadly to RHD research and health policy. As a graduate of La Trobe University's International Development program, he brings his experience from working with NGO East Timor Hearts Fund as well as extensive volunteer experience in the community, refugee and not for profit sector. Timothy has a passionate commitment to international development issues and more specifically heart health.

Susan Perkins is part of the RhEACH team based in Cape Town. Susan earned her Master’s Degree in Community Health Management from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA (USA) and has many years of experience supporting research and programmatic endeavours in academic medicine. 

Susan served as a US Peace Corps Volunteer from 2012 to 2014 in Limpopo, South Africa where she became involved with the Rheumatic Heart Disease Global Registry (REMEDY) project. It was then that she developed a passion for Africa, and working with people living with RHD and their health care providers in the rural areas. Her duties as RhEACH Programme Coordinator will entail assisting with site training and serving as the primary contact person to handle day-to-day concerns and provide logistical support for the RHD Action countries sites on behalf of RhEACH.