World Heart Federation

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Seventy-second World Health Assembly (A72/1)
Agenda Item: 
11.7 Access to medicines and vaccines

This is a story about Rheumatic Heart Disease, or RHD. RHD is a preventable, treatable form of cardiovascular disease that affects over 33 million people around the world, a number comparable to those living with HIV. It affects the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, mainly children and women.

Imagine being the parent of a child with rheumatic fever. If left untreated, you know that RHD can lead to heart failure, stroke and death. You know that access to benzathine penicillin G (BPG), a relatively cheap drug, could stop this disease in its tracks. And you know that RHD has been eradicated in rich contexts, yet still runs rampant in many low resource settings like the one you call home.

Many of you in this room have shown strong leadership in enacting national plans to tackle RHD since the resolution was passed last year. On behalf of all RHD patient and parents, we thank you. But we cannot content ourselves with the status quo. We encourage you to sustain your commitment on this issue and ensure, at the very least, access to essential medicines such as BPG in your country. Without this essential drug, all other efforts are in vain.

Thank you.