Acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD) remain major causes of heart failure, stroke and death among African women and children, despite being preventable and imminently treatable. From 21 to 22 February 2015, the Social Cluster of the Africa Union Commission (AUC) hosted a consultation with RHD experts convened by the Pan-African Society of Cardiology (PASCAR) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to develop a 'roadmap' of key actions that need to be taken by governments to eliminate ARF and eradicate RHD in Africa. Seven priority areas for action were adopted: (1) create prospective disease registers at sentinel sites in affected countries to measure disease burden and track progress towards the reduction of mortality by 25% by the year 2025, (2) ensure an adequate supply of high-quality benzathine penicillin for the primary and secondary prevention of ARF/RHD, (3) improve access to reproductive health services for women with RHD and other non-communicable diseases (NCD), (4) decentralise technical expertise and technology for diagnosing and managing ARF and RHD (including ultrasound of the heart), (5) establish national and regional centres of excellence for essential cardiac surgery for the treatment of affected patients and training of cardiovascular practitioners of the future, (6) initiate national multi-sectoral RHD programmes within NCD control programmes of affected countries, and (7) foster international partnerships with multinational organsations for resource mobilisation, monitoring and evaluation of the programme to end RHD in Africa. This Addis Ababa communique has since been endorsed by African Union heads of state, and plans are underway to implement the roadmap in order to end ARF and RHD in Africa in our lifetime.
- Rheumatic heart disease