Prevent RHD Project Update – 1 Year Later

Prevent RHD Project Update – 1 Year Later

As you may have already heard, one year ago, we launched our Prevent RHD Project. This was our way of helping to raise awareness around RHD (Rheumatic Heart Disease) and support a community-led program to help reduce the occurrence of this totally preventable disease.

Never heard of RHD? Let’s get you up to speed. Simply put, RHD develops when exposure to the Streptococcus bacteria (Group A Strep) starts to affect the heart. If left untreated, RHD can cause permanent damage to the heart valves which can result in heart failure and even premature death.

We teamed up with Take Heart, a national campaign calling for the elimination of RHD in Australia. This included a documentary called Take Heart: Deadly Heart which showcases the ongoing issues surrounding RHD that Indigenous communities continue to face, and how community-led programs are the way forward to eliminate RHD permanently, for everyone.

While raising awareness is great, we also wanted to make a more tangible impact. So, we teamed up with Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services in Yarrabah, Queensland, Australia’s largest Aboriginal community with approximately 4,000 people in 400 living facilities, located southeast of Cairns.

MooGoo Take Heart Project - Milk Wash Refill Station Yarrabah

Why is RHD still around?

RHD is most common in overcrowded living conditions, and when there is limited access to safe water and sanitary conditions, making it associated with lower socioeconomic groups. The funny (and not so funny) thing about RHD is that it’s totally preventable!

Unfortunately, Indigenous Australians are 15 times more likely to be diagnosed with the disease than other Australians, and there are still growing rates of RHD in Australia, with over 6,000 people currently diagnosed. Yarrabah still has a high rate of RHD with more than 160 people affected. Our CEO Melody Livingstone says, “We're hoping that through this program, we see a reduction in RHD cases in this community and that these statistics can be used to put in place a permanent solution.”

How did we help?

The Group A strep germ is easily neutralised by washing skin regularly, and we don’t mean to toot our own horn, but we know a thing or two about keeping skin clean. So, to help the Yarrabah mob, we donated over 1,800 bottles of our Milk Wash to help reduce the occurrence of skin sores through increased hygiene practices such as regular handwashing and bathing.

MooGoo Take Heart Project - Milk Wash

1 Year Later – What’s Happening in Yarrabah Now?

We wanted to see for ourselves how our Prevent RHD Project is making an impact in the community. So, we hopped on a plane to Cairns to visit the beautiful community of Yarrabah. There we met Renee Grosso, the bubbly Public Health Coordinator responsible for spearheading the program roll-out. We got to see the proactive, hands-on, not to mention fun, approach she’s taken to educate the community about RHD, as well as teaching healthy habits to help prevent RHD for a lifetime. Here’s what she’s been up to:

The Yarrabah Soap Program

This program aims to help community members reduce their risk of acquiring RHD through exposure to Strep A by washing with soap and caring for their skin more frequently, and this is what our Milk Wash donations are supporting.

After the first 1,800 Milk Wash bottles were distributed, we continued to supply Renee with 20L drums of Milk Wash to set up at refill stations throughout the community. This makes it easy for people to refill their Milk Wash bottles, or any bottle for that matter, whenever they need more. To date we’ve donated over 3,000L of Milk Wash to the Yarrabah mob; that’s enough to refill over 6,000 bottles!

MooGoo Skincare Refill Stations - Yarrabah Community

So far, Renee has set up and continuously services 20 refill sites around Yarrabah. Locations include the Health Service buildings, schools, the bakery, daycare, men’s shed, library, church, football club, Ranger Station, PCYC, Council Works office, and more.

Collaboration with the Healthy Housing Pilot Program (HHPP)

Since The Yarrabah Soap Program was so well-received, along with HHPP, Renee trialled an extension of the program by providing a larger range of MooGoo products to 98 households. Each received bottles of Milk Shampoo, Cream Conditioner, Fast Hydrating Lotion and Milk Wash. For the next 2 visits to these homes, data was gathered on their experiences with the products while the Public Health Nurse also discussed how healthy living practices can reduce the risk of Strep A infections.

As a result of the ongoing positive feedback they received about the MooGoo, Renee is currently rolling out more products to the Milk Wash refill stations so they also include our Milk Shampoo, Cream Conditioner, Fast Hydrating Lotion, Nit Cream, and Tail Swat. This is MOO-sic to our ears.

“Love the Skin You’re In” Program

This is a series of Healthy Living Practice lessons for children in Yarrabah, which seeks to strengthen and support the messaging being covered by the HHPP. These are delivered to the community regularly and aim to encourage positive behaviour changes and healthy habit-building.

One of these lessons is called Healthy Skin Heroes, and let us tell you, it was nothing short of amazing to witness. On the day we were there this lesson took place in the courtyard of the primary school. The team set up a station where the kids could visit with the Child Health Team to address any skin sores they had. Next to the Child Health station, there was an area where kids could come and play with dolls and participate in the lesson in a fun and interactive way.

MooGoo Skincare Take Heart Prevent RHD Project - Skin Heros

Renee took the children through a series of steps to illustrate how they can care for their skin. She did this by getting them to draw sores onto the dolls with a red marker and tomato sauce. Then they washed their doll in a bucket of water using our Milk Wash to show that washing your skin regularly keeps it clean, prevents skin sores from arising, and helps care for existing ones. Once the dolls were dried, the children put an antiseptic cream onto the sores and covered them with a band-aid.

This simple, fun, and effective lesson teaches the children of Yarrabah important and practical hygiene habits and healthy self-care skills to ensure their skin is well looked after, now, and always. It creatively got the kids involved in a lesson in an engaging way and was a delight to be a part of.

Delivery Locations: Yarrabah Primary School, Yarrabah Kindergarten, Yarrabah PCYC. They aim to reach the Daycare and set up their Public Heath interaction tent in the park during school holidays.

Preventing RHD Beyond Yarrabah

Recently, Renee took these programs with her to Perth where she attended and presented at the 2023 NACCHO (National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation) Members Meeting, representing 145 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations from across the country. Here she ran a 1.5-hour session and took everyone there working in the RHD space through the Healthy Skin Heroes program where they played with the dolls just like the children would.

MooGoo Take Heart Project - Prevent RHD Project

Now other communities and Health Organisation workers nationwide are aware of what Renee is doing in Yarrabah and since then she’s been actively helping others figure out how to best implement programs like the ones running in Yarrabah in other communities around Australia. More clean skin across the country means less RHD for all Australians!

How can you help? Donate today!

So far, we’ve donated over 3,000L of our gentle cleansing Milk Wash but we want to make an even more MOO-sive impact. Want to pitch in and help us give back even more? Donate $5 with your online order (or more if they were in a generous kind of MOO-d) to supply another 500ml of Milk Wash to the Yarrabah community.

So far, customer donations have resulted in an extra 398 bottles! Don’t we have the most wonderful Herd? As this program grows, we will continue to work with Renee and the local Health Service and also explore the implementation of this program in other communities across Australia.

MooGoo Skincare Take Heart Project - How To Help
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