Dr Josh Francis
Rheumatic heart disease adviser
I have been working alongside health providers in Timor-Leste since 2013. In 2016 I worked to help conduct the first ever rheumatic heart disease prevalence study in Timor-Lest, which has helped us to understand the extent of this disease, and plan strategies to fight it.
As a paediatrician, I see too many children and young people suffer and die, often from preventable and treatable conditions. Rheumatic heart disease affects Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory, and Timorese children, at rates that are higher than just about anywhere else in the world. People’s lives are affected by so much tragedy in Timor-Leste, and rheumatic heart disease provides a stark illustration of this kind of tragedy. The memory of children I have cared for, who don’t survive into adulthood, will never leave me. They have become a huge part of my work.
I now work with East Timor Hearts Fund to develop strategic ways of preventing and managing rheumatic heart disease in Timor-Leste.