How many people have ARF and/or RHD?

In 2019, there were 7,713 people on the ARF or RHD registers across Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory. Almost 2 in 3 (62%) were female and 2 in 5 (42%) were aged 5–14 when first diagnosed (Figure 3).

There were 2,328 people who only had ARF recorded, 2,835 people who only had RHD recorded, and 2,550 people who had both ARF and RHD recorded.

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Where are people with ARF and RHD being managed?

For each ARF and RHD diagnosis reported to a register, the region of management is recorded. This is the area where the patient was most recently reported to receive the majority of the primary health care for their ARF or RHD. The region of management may differ from the person’s region of diagnosis and the notifying jurisdiction.

From 2017–2019 there were 6,530 Indigenous Australians being managed for ARF or RHD by health services in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory. This is smaller than the number of people on the ARF or RHD registers as some people are classified as inactive or have died. This number includes all persons who were either diagnosed, assessed/reviewed, receiving prophylaxis or undergoing surgery for RHD between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2019 (reflecting the recommended frequency of evaluation every 3 years for patients with mild disease). The regions with the highest rates of management were:

  • Rural Darwin (NT), with 6,502 cases per 100,000 population (801 persons)
  • East Arnhem (NT), with 5,894 per 100,000 (666 persons)
  • Urban Alice Springs (NT), with 5,081 per 100,000 (346 persons).

Management rates in remote areas tended to be higher than those in less remote areas (Figure 4).