Bridging the gap between science and Indigenous cosmologies: Rheumatic Heart Disease Champions4Change

Vicki Wade, Maida Stewart

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Australia has articulated a commitment to eliminate rheumatic heart disease (RHD) by 2031. Business as usual will not achieve this goal. Diverse sectors need to work together in implementing complementary strategies towards this ambitious target. Rheumatic Heart Disease Australia's 'Champions4Change' program is one important element that provides a novel and vital approach. Champions4Change is a culturally safe program of people living with acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD). The Champions support each other, advocate for ending RHD, design education and awareness programs and inform resource and program development through their lived experiences. New approaches that acknowledge the complex and challenging environments in which ARF/RHD exist are required to eliminate RHD and improve care for those living with ARF/RHD. Approaches taken by the program include local engagement, improved capacity and opportunities for Champions and their communities to make self-determined decisions based on culturally informed information. This paper highlights success stories using culture and locally appropriate approaches to improve community knowledge and awareness of RHD. We describe the rationale, development and purpose of Champions4Change, illustrating how this is far more than a peer-support group, and provides benefits for health services and researchers, as well as empowering community members.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-92
Number of pages4
JournalMicrobiology Australia
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2022


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