14 April, 2023
Keeping clean is the answer
Moves to stamp out community’s heart disease
AUSTRALIA’S largest Aboriginal community at Yarrabah has teamed with natural skin care brand Moo Goo to try and stamp out largely preventable Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD).
Yarrabah, where about 4000 people live in 414 accommodation quarters, has higher rates of RHD, with more than 129 people with the disease.
The reasons include difficult living conditions which can be cramped, with limited access to safe water and sanitary conditions.
A lack of basic plumbing in many houses is also contributing to the RHD issue.
RHD is a devastating, but preventable, condition that often starts with skin sores that get infected.
Complications from RHD are common and include atrial fibrillation, endocarditis, heart failure, stroke and lead to damage so severe that the child needs open heart surgery.
Tragically, children aged between 5 to 15 years are 55 times more likely to die from RHD.
One way to prevent the disease is by promoting good hygiene, and MooGoo has donated a year’s worth of its body wash for every household in Yarrabah so they can use it to wash their hands, body and face.
In collaboration with the local health service, refill stations of the milk wash are now easily accessible in community hubs, schools and sports clubs in the area.
Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services Aboriginal Corporation child health team leader Maddy Dodd said skin sores were common in Yarrabah.
“If we can prevent the infection from occurring at the beginning, and prevent the skin sores, we can help reduce the devastating effects of rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in our communities,” she said.
Gurriny Yealamucka chief executive Suzanne Andrews chief executive said the milk wash was made with gentle, natural cleansers that won’t irritate the skin, so it was good for skin sores.
“This is all about making sure that we have good sanitising soaps and it’s awesome we’ve got special sites that we can start to dispense to the mob in Yarrabah to help prevent skin sores,” she said.
MooGoo chief executive Melody Livingstone said she was disturbed to discover that in people in remote communities were having trouble accessing basic essentials like soap.
“It was shocking not only to me, but the entire management team and we wanted to do something about it and look for a solution,” she said.
“We’re hoping that through this program, we see a reduction in rheumatic heart disease cases in these communities ...”