• To increase the amount of preventive treatment (secondary prophylaxis) given to people with acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD).
  • To test whether a model of care designed to optimise health systems and community resources improves adherence to secondary prophylaxis for RHD. 

As health professionals working in Indigenous communities well know, rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is a major cause of morbidity. The most beneficial and cost effective way to prevent the development of the disease is through regular antibiotic injections (benzathine penicillin G (BPG)) after an initial bout of acute rheumatic fever (ARF), referred to as secondary prophylaxis (SP).

Currently there’s limited evidence of how to ensure that all ARF/RHD patients receive their regular SP antibiotic injections. The research team will work closely with the Northern Territory RHD control program, clinic staff and other stakeholders to maximise efforts to deliver SP. This three and a half year project involves 10 remote health clinics in the Northern Territory (NT), and if successful, the package could be implemented across remote health centres in Australia.

Implications for policy and practice:

A successful model of care delivery for ARF/RHD prevention could have widespread applications in the NT and elsewhere in Australasia. 

Chief investigators:
  • Professor Jonathan Carapetis, Telethon Kids Institute (ex Menzies)
  • Associate Professor Graeme Maguire, Baker IDI
  • Professor Ross Bailie, Menzies School of Health Research
  • Professor Bart CurrieMenzies School of Health Research
  • Adrienne Kirby, Sydney Medical School NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre
  • Dr Vanessa Johnston, Northern Territory Department of Health, Centre for Disease Control
  • Dr Keith Edwards, Northern Territory Department of Health
  • Professor Anna RalphMenzies School of Health Research
Contact information:
Project dates:

The project commenced in late 2012 and concluded in December 2016. Results have been analysed and are being prepared for publication.

  • National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
  • Telethon Institute for Child Health Research
  • Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute
  • Northern Territory Department of Health
  • University of Sydney.