The RHD community in Fiji

The RHD community in Fiji

An interview with Joe Hansen by Stephanie Carde (CLAN Intern, 2017)

CLAN Youth Representative, Joe Hansen, attended a Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) conference hosted by the Fijian Ministry of Health at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva, Fiji on the 20th of February. The event was supported by Liz Kennedy of Cure Kids NZ and the New Zealand High Commissioner Mark Ramsden.

RHD is a leading cause of death for Fijian adults and second only to drowning for children and youth (ages 5-25 years). Senior paediatrician Dr. Joseph Kado reached out to Joe with an invitation to attend the RHD event. Joe attended the conference as a representative of CLAN and was one of the conference’s guest speakers. Joe spoke to CLAN’s experiences partnering with the RHD Community in Kenya, and shared his own personal experience attending support group meetings in Vietnam and the Philippines with CLAN over several years, where “support groups play a strategic role in the holistic management of living with a NCD.” Joe insists the development of strong communal support can be seen as something more than just a meeting of families, and touched upon CLAN’s 5 pillars for action as underpinning CLAN’s involvement in the RHD community in Kenya.
A highlight of Joe’s involvement in the event was the opportunity to share a message of support from Kenya that was read out to the Fijian RHD Community:

Please pass our greetings from Kenya, and (let Fiji know) we are following the outcomes of (our) meeting.  We are hopeful there is a solution for RHD and that RHD can be eradicated.

Let families and communities unite, and together a solution will be found.

The RHD Community in Kenya is grateful for CLAN’s support in bringing together children and families with RHD. This went a long way in encouraging and motivating families and ensuring better quality lives through CLAN 5 pillars.

CLAN would like to thank the Fijian Ministry of Health, Dr Joseph Kado and Ms Liz Kennedy for the opportunity to participate in this important RHD event in Suva. We wish the RHD Community every success in their endeavours, and hope to continue to connect with everyone’s ongoing collaborative efforts to protect the children of Fiji into the future.