Global ARCH / Member Spotlight  / A Focus on Rheumatic Heart Disease Philippines

A Focus on Rheumatic Heart Disease Philippines

Rheumatic Heart Disease Philippines was founded in 2017 because of my wife who has RHD. At first we didn’t know anything about RHD, but my search on social media connected us to a community of other RHD patients and their families. Together we exchange knowledge, and share experiences about the hardships and sacrifices we have experienced. So one of the goals of the group is to support each other, help each other without hesitation, and without reciprocation.

Some of the main challenges identified by our groups are the anxiety that comes with living with RHD, the medications that need to be taken, and the do’s and don’ts of how to live with RHD. My wife had her surgery in 2021, and we are very thankful to God.

Our group provides quality support to these patients and their families on their journey. We counsel families, connect them with our partner sponsors and medical practitioners, help them raise funds for their necessary surgeries and medical needs, and most importantly welcome them into a caring family. At Rheumatic Heart Disease Philippines we fully understand what they need and what they are going through because we have been there.

In 2019 we organized the first patient-family day in the Philippines, held at the Philippine Heart Center. We ran the event along with other groups as well as doctors, and it was repeated in 2021 online due to the pandemic. Some of the topics we discussed included How do you explain to your child his condition; the importance of addressing mental health issues early on; and identifying available support systems for the patient and family.

I want readers of this blog to know that Rheumatic Heart Disease Philippines is willing to help our fellow patients despite their illnesses, not necessarily financially, but through moral support and spiritual advice.

You can find Rheumatic Heart Disease Philippine’s Facebook page HERE.

Jeffrey Estrella

Nahimeh Jaffar 

Nahimeh Jaffar has worked as a certified Project Manager (PMP) in various fields, including Public Health, Biotech, and Pharmaceuticals, working within clinical settings such as hospitals and clinics. In addition, she worked with global communities in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Middle East, supporting various social impact projects. Ms. Jaffar has been involved in preventive health initiatives in collaboration with the Center for Disease Control (CDC, USA) and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS, USA).


Ms. Jaffar holds an MBA in Business Development from the Swiss Institute of Higher Management, Vevey, Switzerland, and a bachelor’s degree in Consumer Affairs from California State University, Northridge, USA.

Amy Verstappen, President

Amy Verstappen has been a patient advocate and health educator since 1996, when her own challenges living with a complex heart defect led her to the Adult Congenital Heart Association, where she served as president from 2001 to 2013. She has served as an advisor to the Centers for Disease Control the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; and the International Society for Adult Congenital Cardiac Disease, and worked with congenital heart patient and professional groups throughout the USA and the world.  Ms. Verstappen received a Masters in Education in 1990 and a Masters in Global Health in 2019.