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Hearts of Service: Rotary Donates to RHD Program

Rotary Club of Pago Pago has partnered with the American Samoa Department of Health to provide medication for the treatment of Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD). The club's support comes in the form of a $5000 donation that was presented on Friday March 15th at the DOH Conference Room.

The presentation, attended by DOH staff and Rotarians, was presided over by Dr. Elizabeth Lauvao.

"When we heard about your donation, we were very excited. As you know, rheumatic heart disease is a major health threat in American Samoa. As we treat children each day, we diagnose an unusually high amount of new cases of RHD. (We want) to keep these kids healthy and prevent them from getting complications (which is why) they need their monthly Bicillin medication. We've managed to get the Bicillin through one of the federal programs for medication. It's called the 340-B program and this brings the cost down, but the problem with bringing the Bicillin is the shipping cost. It is very expensive, and that's where most of the funding is going. This is why we are grateful to the Rotary Club for its help defraying those costs," said Lauvao.

On February 16th, DOH's Ipu Eliapo attended the Rotary Club's weekly meeting where she presented information on infection rates for Rheumatic Heart Disease in American Samoa along with an explanation of the department's efforts and challenges for treating the deadly disease. It is expected that the Rotary Club's donation will cover shipping costs for the RHD program for the next year or two.

"Thank you so much for this donation," said Eliapo. "It definitely helps to bring that important medication to our people. Thank you, Rotary."
Woman presenting at a club meeting.
Ipu Eliapo presenting to Rotary on February 16th, 2024

Rotary Club of Pago Pago President Cherith Soliai also gave remarks thanking the Department of Health for the opportunity to partner on the project. She explained the club was moved by Eliapo's presentation and that this precipitated the donation. She also reiterated Rotary's mission to find needs in the community and address them.

For more information about American Samoa's ongoing struggles to combat RHD or to learn about treatment or prevention, contact the A.S. Department of Health at 684-633-4008.

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