Position statement of the World Heart Federation on the prevention and control of rheumatic heart disease

Nat Rev Cardiol. 2013 May;10(5):284-92. doi: 10.1038/nrcardio.2013.34. Epub 2013 Apr 2.


In the 21(st) century, rheumatic fever (RF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD) are neglected diseases of marginalized communities. Globally, RHD remains the most-common cardiovascular disease in young people aged <25 years. Although RF and RHD have been almost eradicated in areas with established economies, migration from low-income to high-income settings might be responsible for a new burden of RHD in high-income countries. The World Heart Federation (WHF) and its Working Group on RF and RHD unites global experts, combines their experience and enthusiasm, and provides a platform for RHD control. This paper is a declaration of the WHF institutional strategic goal--a 25% reduction in premature deaths from RF and RHD among individuals aged <25 years by the year 2025. The position statement affirms WHF commitments to five key strategic targets: comprehensive register-based control programmes, global access to benzathine penicillin G, identification and development of public figures as 'RHD champions', expansion of RHD training hubs, and support for vaccine development. In this paper, we also review existing barriers to RF and RHD control and identify the actions required to change the trajectory of control for these diseases. This approach provides the foundation for governments, civil society, patient advocates, clinicians, researchers, and funding agencies to develop partnerships and unify global efforts to control RF and RHD. The WHF plans to expand this position statement to an operational plan that will be founded on science, research, and quantifiable progress indicators to impact positively on the millions of people who are affected by RHD and its long-term sequelae.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomedical Research / standards
  • Cardiology / education
  • Cardiology / standards*
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated / standards
  • Education, Medical / standards
  • Global Health / standards*
  • Health Services Accessibility / standards
  • Humans
  • Preventive Health Services / standards*
  • Prognosis
  • Rheumatic Heart Disease / diagnosis
  • Rheumatic Heart Disease / mortality
  • Rheumatic Heart Disease / prevention & control*
  • Young Adult