Dionezio dos Santos is 14, but unlike most teenage boys, he needs regular health care to keep his heart beating strong.
Without the crucial support of our rheumatic heart disease prevention project, Dionezio’s symptoms would worsen, his quality of life would deteriorate and eventually he would need life-saving surgery. To keep Dionezio healthy and smiling, he receives monthly penicillin injections. His family, the community and local health professionals receive education about the symptoms and causes of rheumatic heart disease.
“Before receiving penicillin Dionezio was breathless, had swollen legs and couldn’t go to school,” his mum Joaquinha Soares says. “Now he can play soccer and run and go to school.”
Dionezio has become a big advocate for healthy hearts. “I even organise all the other children to come and get their penicillin and tell them that they will feel healthy afterwards,” he says.
The rheumatic heart disease prevention and community awareness project runs in two districts in Timor-Leste and is conducted in close co-operation with the Ministry of Health and our local partner Maluk Timor. We hope this project can provide a good model for the Ministry of Health to expand its work nation-wide in the coming years.