Determining the health and economic burden of rheumatic heart disease in Australia

How rheumatic heart disease affects our population and health system, and approaches/strategies to lessen the burden

This National Health and Medical Research Council-funded project looks at the burden and outcomes of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in Australia’s population and healthcare system. Through the group’s research, we aim to provide key evidence to underpin policy recommendations to end RHD in Australia.

Our findings will contribute to the Endgame Strategy being developed by the END RHD Centre for Research Excellence, based at the Telethon Kids Institute, which aims to remove RHD as a public health problem in Australia.

Our study will calculate the occurrence, distribution and outcomes of RHD in Australia and assess the impact of existing health interventions at various stages of the disease.

We will derive rates and trends from the analysis of linked administrative data, from sources as diverse as hospitals, deaths, RHD registers and surgeries across five Australian jurisdictions.

By pinpointing patterns in the interventions and systems of care, as well as hospital utilisation and costs, we will assist in policy recommendations about the optimal mix of interventions to manage this disease. In particular, we will examine the epidemiological, health systems and economic evidence revealed by these data.

Our research is led by UWA School of Population and Global Health senior research fellow Dr Judith Katzenellenbogen.


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If you would like to learn more about our research, explore the readings below:

Wyber R, Katzenellenbogen JM, Pearson G, Gannon M. The rationale for action to end new cases of RHD in Australia. Med J Austr. 2017;207(8):322-3.

Katzenellenbogen JM, Ralph AP, Wyber R, Carapetis JR. Rheumatic heart disease: infectious disease origin, chronic care approach. BMC Health Serv Res 2017(1): 793.

Zuhlke L, Beaton A, Engel ME, Hugo-Hamman CT, Karthikeyan G, Katzenellenbogen JM, Ntusi N, Ralph AP, Saxena A, Smeesters PR, Watkins D, Zilla P, Carapetis J. Group A Streptococcus, Acute Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease: epidemiology and clinical considerations. Curr Treat Options Cardio Med 2017;19(2):15.

Abouzeid M, Katzenellenbogen JM, Wyber R, Watkins D, Johnson T, Carapetis J. Rheumatic heart disease in the Western Pacific - not just a Pacific Island problem. 2017 Heart Asia 2017;9:1–14.

Carapetis J, Beaton A, Cunningham M, Guilherme L, Karthikeyan G, Mayosi B, et al. Acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2016.


We are collaborating with a number of academics, institutes and groups for our research. One of our biggest collaboration partners is the END RHD Centre for Research Excellence at the Telethon Kids Institute. Other collaborators include:

  • Associate Professor Anna Ralph, Menzies School of Health Research, Darwin, NT
  • Professor Dawn Bessarab, Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health, UWA
  • Emeritus Professor Joe Hung, Medical School, UWA
  • Dr Lee Nedkoff, School of Population and Global Health, UWA
  • Professor Nicholas de Klerk, Telethon Kids Institute
  • Professor Elizabeth Geelhoed, School of Allied Health, UWA
  • Daniel Williamson, Queensland Health
  • Dr Angelita Martini, UWA and Brightwater Group
  • Dr Frank Sanfilippo, School of Population and Global Health, UWA
  • Dr Judith Katzenellenbogen, School of Population and Global Health, UWA
  • Professor Alex Brown, South Australia Health and Medical Research Institute
  • Dr Anne Russell, Baker IDI
  • Professor Christopher Reid, Curtin University
  • Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  • Professor Graeme Maguire, Monash University
  • Jess de Dassel, Menzies School of Health Research (Darwin)
  • Professor Jonathan Carapetis, Telethon Kids Institute
  • Dr Kalinda Griffiths, Menzies School of Health Research/University of NSW
  • Mellise Anderson, Queensland Health
  • Rosemary Wyber, Telethon Kids Institute/University of Sydney


Contact Dr Judith Katzenellenbogen