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Saving hearts starts with healthy throat: JU continues to care for the most vulnerable

Saving Hearts in Jimma University (SHIJU) is a volunteer based working group dedicated in saving the lives of many students through active participation in the school health programs. The group is helping the students get the power to control their health issues through training about healthy throats for health hearts. The program is lead by a pediatric cardiologist and coordinated by the team of volunteers and act and health care providers, medical students and other volunteers from various fields in the university

The group had conducted many teaching sessions and lectures starting from JUCS across the schools in Jimma town. The groups is also planning to expand hands to reach many where necessary to   intervene and put knowledge and skills to save the hearts of children in the school.  

The intervention underlines on how sore throat can lead to acute rheumatic fever and then how it progress to Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD). It is explained in the intervention that RHD causes heart valve damage that happens because of Rheumatic fever that emanates from bacterial sore throat that manifest itself in joint pain, fever, skin lesions. Ethiopia is counted among countries with the highest burden RHD. 

Patients with RHD develop heart failure resulting in early loss of life if the damaged heart valves are not repaired or replaced by means of surgery. Open heart surgery is an expensive procedure and the availability is unlikely for our children. The human, economic and social cost of coping with these conditions is high for the victims of the disease and their families and communities, as well as for the health care systems that serve them.  

These challenges highly require the need for prevention which is highly important to mitigate the health and economic burden of the diseases. It is underling during intervention that treatment of streptococcal sore throat with Benzathine Penicillin is effective in preventing RHD and is affordable as a public health strategy. Provision of awareness creation programs can save many children from developing sore throat and help seeking proper treatment through active involvement of their family and neighbors. Children who had already developed RHD will benefit from the educational program through targeted advice and evaluation so as they can prevent further damage through monthly injection. 

It is explained during the interventions that the group is planning to expand its program to reach many children who are in need of it. The group hopes to include other services including registry and looking for better opportunity for all kinds of heart disease in children so that they can benefit from professional support till advanced management of the cases. 

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