The Philips Foundation and the World Heart Federation (WHF) have reached an alliance in the Asia Pacific region, aimed at enabling quick detection of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) to support better treatment.

Targeting the market’s underserved communities, the initiative looks to reduce mortality rates linked to the disease.

It also seeks to facilitate training on the disease and drive awareness, with a goal to benefit more than half a million at-risk children.

The project will involve training healthcare workers, screening children using Philips’ handheld point-of-care ultrasound device and educating teachers to increase disease awareness.

Philips Foundation Director Margot Cooijmans said: “Our partnership with the World Heart Federation aims to drive improved early detection and treatment of rheumatic heart disease while demonstrating the sustainability and cost-effectiveness of this innovative approach in the Philippines.

“Rheumatic heart disease remains a pressing issue in underserved regions across the globe, largely overlooked in the global health agenda.

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“The lack of attention and resources in these settings prompts us to ensure that these communities are not left behind as they battle a disease that has already been eradicated elsewhere.”

The initiative starts with the Philippines, where a pilot project will start in 2023 and run until June 2025.

Supported by the Philippines Ministry of Health, the pilot will be conducted in the high-prevalence areas of Taguig Global City, Iloilo, and Bicol.

This partnership builds on insights gained from a previous programme in Uganda.