Health minister inspects mobile heart clinic

18 August 2008

As part of national Rheumatic Fever Week, national minister of health Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang delivered the keynote address to scholars and parents at the Isilimela Comprehensive High School in Langa, one of the twenty-four schools that constitute the demonstration site of UCT's mobile heart clinic.

The Rheumatic Heart Disease Echo Surveillance Mobile Unit, which was inspected by the minister, contains two fully-equipped examining rooms, and can screen as many as 30 children a day. The mobile unit is part of the UCT Department of Medicine's Awareness, Surveillance, Advocacy, Prevention (ASAP) programme, which aims to combat rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in Africa.

In her speech, Tshabalala-Msimang stressed the importance of heart disease awareness, noting that many people don't realise they have a heart condition. She urged her audience to avoid cigarettes, drugs and alcohol.

"This is a long-term project," says Professor Bongani Mayosi, head of the Department of Medicine and of the Cardiac Clinic at Groote Schuur Hospital. "Our plan is to screen as many as 4 000 children for rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in the next three years."

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