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Priority Areas

These priorities have been informed by outstanding needs in RHD control. The persistent burden of RF and RHD demonstrates that effective approaches to disease control are not being delivered to populations in need. A number of articles have sought to identify barriers to tackling RHD worldwide. Research priorities were outlined in an article by Carapetis and Zhulke in 2011. Although the article was targeted at the research community, the highest priority was given to implementation research: 'translating what we already know into practical RHD control'.

Similarly, the Position Statement of the World Heart Federation on the Prevention and Control of Rheumatic Heart Disease emphasizes practical and policy implementation activities.

Outstanding needs for RHD control

Raising the profile of RF/RHD

RF and RHD are neglected diseases, in that they receive less advocacy, funding and research than  warranted by their disease burden (Remenyi, Carapetis et al. 2013). There is no cohesive 'brand' profile for the disease and RF/RHD remains an unwieldy name and a complex disease for funders, policy makers and advocates to unite around. A strategic approach to raising the global profile of RF/RHD is needed.

Mobilising governments

Despite enormous humanitarian need, only a handful of governments have prioritized RHD control. A 'business case' for intervention is urgently needed to present the economic rationale for primary and secondary prevention.

Engaging people living with RHD

The experience, concerns and priorities of RHD patients must inform the global agenda if programs seek to meaningfully reduce the burden of the disease on their lives. However the experiences of people living with RHD (PLW RHD) are largely under-represented at local, national and global levels. Consumer leaders and PLW RHD should be proactively identified, engaged and supported to share their perspective on disease control efforts. Moreover the potential for the RHD-affected community to advocate for a higher profile for RHD, and for implementation of control strategies, has been underestimated to date.