To mark World Heart Day, over two hundred children and adults were screened for rheumatic heart disease in Asmarat, a suburb of Cairo, Egypt.
The echocardiography screenings formed part of Egypt’s Rheumatic Fever / Rheumatic Heart Disease (RF/RHD) Prevention and Control Programme, and marked the beginning of efforts to screen schoolchildren for RHD throughout the country.
One of the doctors involved in the screening, Dr Amany Atef Galal, commented: “We hope to eliminate and get rid of the term RHD”. The screenings provoked a lot of media interest, and were attended by representatives from the World Heart Federation Advocacy team and the Faculty of Medicine of Ain Shams University Cairo, as well as Dr Alaa El Ghamrawy, Director of the national RF/RHD Prevention and Control Programme.
Following the screening, children took part in a range of activities to encourage physical activity, led by local organization Sofra, and were treated to a football match between two local teams. All children received a pack at the end of the day for their participation.
Programme Director Dr Alaa El Ghamrawy and participants during the day’s activities
RHD prevention and control in Egypt
Egypt’s RF/RHD Prevention and Control Programme was established in 2002 and is fully integrated into the Egyptian Ministry of Health’s programme on non-communicable diseases.
In the first centre to be established as part of the programme – located in El Mahalla El Kubra, a city in northern Egypt – cardiologists and nurses have screened almost 10,000 patients for RHD since 2005.
Dr El Ghamrawy explained the programme’s referral process: “Hospitals located in El Mahalla El Kubra and the 54 primary health care centres in surrounding rural areas refer patients to the RHD centre in El Mahalla, while those in need of heart surgery are referred to the nearby cardiac centre.” He added that all patients who are treated in the clinic are given a follow up card, and that the programme maintains a digital registry of patients diagnosed with RF, RHD or rheumatic arthritis.
People screened for RHD at the RHD Prevention and Control Centre in El Mahalla El Kubra, Egypt