African Union Collaborates with Partners to Develop a Roadmap for the Eradication of Rheumatic Heart Disease in Africa

By African Union Commission (AUC)

The African Union Commission in collaboration with the Pan-African Society of Cardiology (PASCAR), WHO and other key partners concluded a three day meeting aimed at developing a roadmap for the eradication of Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) in Africa. According to WHO, RHD is the most common cause of acquired heart disease among children in developing countries, and it affects school-aged children in Africa.

Delivering the keynote address, African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs, Dr. Sidiki Mustapha Kaloko reminded participants that the continent was relying on them to ensure that RHD was not a public health problem in Africa. He informed the experts that their efforts to eradicate RHC have not gone unnoticed by the leadership of the continent who take the health of its citizens very seriously. He warned that development in Africa will be impeded if diseases such as RHD continue to cause disability and kill children. Commissioner Kaloko stated that “Rheumatic Heart Disease is preventable and treatable, so I am calling upon you to address it as a contribution to our Agenda 2063” adding that health is a key element of the Coninent's developmental framework. The Commissioner later unveiled the Addis Ababa Communique which contained Seven Key Actions to Eradication of Rheumatic Heart Disease in Africa.

In his statement the President of the National Council of the Pan African Society of Cardiology Professor Bongani M. Mayosi reminded the meeting of the burden of RHD in Africa and assured the AUC of technical support. He reiterated his organization's commitment to the in prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease across Africa. The representatives of the World Health organisation (WHO) and Novartis Pharmaceuticals pledged their support and commitment to the initiative to eradicate RHD.

The Meeting was held in fulfillment of the mandate of the Conference of African Health Ministers (CAMH6) held in Addis Ababa in 2013 that requested the African Union Commission to develop a mechanism to control non communicable diseases in Africa. This request was further reiterated during the first joint African Union and World Health Organization Ministerial meeting, during which ministers pledged to take action towards controlling NCDs in Africa under the AUC-WHO joint work plan.