Generating Global Priority for Addressing Rheumatic Heart Disease: A Qualitative Policy Analysis

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Abstract

Background Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) poses a high burden in low-income countries, as well as among indigenous and other socioeconomically disadvantaged populations in high-income countries. Despite its severity and preventability, RHD receives insufficient global attention and resources. We conducted a qualitative policy analysis to investigate the reasons for recent growth but ongoing inadequacy in global priority for addressing RHD. Methods and Results Drawing on social science scholarship, we conducted a thematic analysis, triangulating among peer-reviewed literature, organizational documents, and 20 semistructured interviews with individuals involved in RHD research, clinical practice, and advocacy. The analysis indicates that RHD proponents face 3 linked challenges, all shaped by the nature of the issue. With respect to leadership and governance, the fact that RHD affects mostly poor populations in dispersed regions complicates efforts to coordinate activities among RHD proponents and to engage international organizations and donors. With respect to solution definition, the dearth of data on aspects of clinical management in low-income settings, difficulties preventing and addressing the disease, and the fact that RHD intersects with several disease specialties have fueled proponent disagreements about how best to address the disease. With respect to positioning, a perception that RHD is largely a problem for low-income countries and the ambiguity on its status as a noncommunicable disease have complicated efforts to convince policy makers to act. Conclusions To augment RHD global priority, proponents will need to establish more effective governance mechanisms to facilitate collective action, manage differences surrounding solutions, and identify positionings that resonate with policy makers and funders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e014800
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Volume9
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 21 2020

Keywords

  • global health policy
  • health policy
  • noncommunicable diseases
  • politics
  • rheumatic heart disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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