9 Dec 2009

Tongan doctor wants to set up heart foundation

2:46 pm on 9 December 2009

A Tongan paediatrician is seeking support to set up a heart foundation in the kingdom.

Dr Toa Fakakovikaetau says after the success of the Rheumatic Heart Disease Prevention programme to screen school children, setting up a foundation would help further her work.

She has screened thousands of children, aged between 5 and 14, since July 2008, making it possible to provide early and effective treatment for hundreds of children.

It is now compulsory for children in their final year at school to get screened.

She hopes to get advice from other specialists who will be attending a Rheumatic Fever Workshop for Pacific Health Professionals in Auckland this week.

"With the work that we are doing we get a lot of support from the parents, the PTA, the Parents Teachers Association, Ministry of Education and we think we are ready to start up a Heart Foundation. So it's just a matter of trying to call all the interested people together."

Dr Toa says rheumatic heart disease deaths occur mainly in developing countries and affecting above all children, adolescents and young adults.