STUDY OBJECTIVE--The aim was to determine the prevalence of rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease and to initiate a programme of secondary prophylaxis in Sahafa Town, Sudan. DESIGN--The study was a prospective case finding survey, carried out by a specially trained team headed by a cardiologist. SETTING--The study involved high risk school children (5-15 years of age) from Sahafa Town in the period 1986-1989. SUBJECTS--A total of 13,332 children on the school registers (7892 boys and 5430 girls) were examined generally and specifically for evidence of rheumatic fever or rheumatic heart disease. MAIN RESULTS--Out of the 13,322 children screened 351 were suspected cases and 146 were confirmed cases of rheumatic fever or rheumatic heart disease. The prevalence rates for all ages were 10/1000 for boys and 14/1000 for girls. The overall prevalence rate of the whole programme area was 11/1000, prevalence of rheumatic fever was 8/1000, and prevalence of rheumatic heart disease was 3/1000. The prevalence rate was significantly increased among the inner town inhabitants (15/1000) compared to the outer town inhabitants 4/1000 (p < 0.001). Monthly prophylactic benzathine penicillin in a dose of 1,200,000 IU was given to both suspected and confirmed cases. Penicillin coverage rate was 72%. CONCLUSIONS--Rheumatic fever continues to be a serious health problem. With economic pressures causing impending change in socioeconomic conditions in most Third World countries in the immediate future, rheumatic fever will continue to have a high prevalence rate and rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease prevention programmes will remain a central goal.
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