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ARF/RHD Project Officer poses at Danila Dilba Clinic.
09 May 2024

Promoting Heart Health at Danila Dilba

Heart Week 2024

Heart Week takes place in May each year. This year, in addition to promoting heart health to our community between 6 - 13 May, we also took a moment to shine a light on one of the newer projects run at Danila Dilba—the Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF)/Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) pilot project.

Recently the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) provided funding to a range of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) across Australia specifically for ARF/RHD Project Officers. Danila Dilba was one of the ACCHOs fortunate to receive this and, in February 2024, the DDHS ARF/RHD Clinical Project Officer role was born. 

Introducing ARF/RHD Clinical Project Officer

Anna Philip took on the ARF/RHD Clinical Project Officer role at the start of this year. Her position sits within the Chronic Disease - Health Promotion and Program Integration (HPPI) team, and she supports the ARF and RHD systems and processes that take place at DDHS.

Prior to working at Danila Dilba, Anna was a physiotherapist in various hospitals in Melbourne and at Royal Darwin Hospital. There, she worked in general medicine and critical care, while also completing a Master of Public Health. Anna then moved to NT Primary Health Network (NT PHN), where she worked in suicide prevention strategy.

The wealth of knowledge Anna brings to the role of ARF/RHD Project Officer is extremely valuable and we're lucky to have her!

Tackling ARF and RHD

ARF is an illness that follows an autoimmune response to Group A Streptococcus (GAS). Left untreated, it can cause Rheumatic Heart Disease, which involves damage to one or more of the four small heart valves.

“In Australia, ARF and RHD cause significant ill-health and premature death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Anna told us.

“This is due to considerable inequalities across a wide range of social, education and health outcomes compared with the general population. There is an urgent need to mitigate these disparities and promote health equity.”

The role of the ARF/RHD Project Officer at Danila Dilba is an operational one: Anna is supporting to improve the operations and systems at DDHS, however she does not see clients.

“Currently there are five clinic RHD leads who are responsible for the work within the clinics and [they] see most of the clients who are on secondary prophylaxis.”

Note: secondary prophylaxis, for ARF and RHD, is the regular antibiotics administered to prevent future Step A infections.

Key Dates for ARF/RHD Initiatives this Year

In addition to Heart Week, Anna is actively planning events and training to raise awareness about ARF and RHD throughout the year. The aim of this is to encourage adherence to prophylaxis, screening, and management, such as cardiology and echos. Stay tuned on our socials for updates!

Want to Know More?

There are a range of resources and training modules available on the RHD Australia website and here: 

To check up on your heart health, contact us on (08) 8942 5400 or visit one of our clinics to speak to our team.