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The CRE’s investigators are working closely with individuals and communities living with RHD to fill knowledge gaps, working towards producing a costed, step-wise strategy to end RHD as a public health priority in Australia.

The strategy - to be delivered to the Commonwealth as the RHD Endgame Report in 2020 - will include an 11-year plan to achieve disease control by 2031, reducing the incidence of ARF and bringing the prevalence of RHD for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians down to the same level as non-Indigenous Australians.

Emma Haynes: Understanding the lived experience of rheumatic heart disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their communities.

Aim: The lived experience research aims to present the perspectives and experiences of Aboriginal people living with and caring for community members with RHD. Following an initial systematic review of qualitative RHD literature, and a scoping project involving interviews with key stakeholders, Emma will work with local Aboriginal co-researchers to undertake interviews and focus groups with Aboriginal people living with and caring for community members with RHD. This research is being conducted in collaboration with the On Track Watch program in Yilpara.

Deborah Kruger: Understanding the burden of rheumatic heart disease in Australian jurisdictions: WA component.

Aim: this project aims to characterise the epidemiology of ARF/RHD in Western Australia using linked health data.

The research objectives include:

  • to develop methods to increase the robustness of estimates of ARF/RHD
  • to estimate ARF recurrence and its determinants in first-ever ARF cases
  • to characterise the progression and outcomes of RHD and determinants of progression within 1, 2, and 5 years.

Joshua Osowicki: Group A streptococcal human challenge study: accelerating vaccine development.

Aim: to create a safe and reliable controlled human infection model of GAS pharyngitis by applying GAS bacteria to the throats of carefully selected healthy adult volunteers who will be monitored and then treated in an inpatient setting. A successful human challenge model will be a much-needed catalyst to fast-track development of a GAS vaccine, delivering unprecedented insight into human immune protection against GAS infection and providing a testing arena for new vaccines. A challenge model could also be used to test new diagnostics (e.g. point-of-care GAS pharyngitis tests) and treatments (e.g. alternatives to painful penicillin injections).

Geraldine Vaughan: RHD in pregnancy: challenges of health services.

Aim: to identify structural and cultural barriers and facilitators to the access of timely, best practice maternal and cardiovascular care for pregnant women with rheumatic heart disease (RHD), through:

  • A systematic review of the literature regarding care for pregnant women with RHD;
  • A quantitative study of surveillance and health information systems related to RHD in pregnancy;
  • A qualitative examination of health providers’ knowledge, experiences of and attitudes to provision of care for pregnant women with RHD.