I am so excited to report back on GHN’s sponsored trip to Senegal to lay the foundations with local partners to raise awareness and help prevent Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) in Senegal. RHD is the most common acquired heart disease in children in many countries of the world and is being neglected and poorly treated (See findings published last week in European Heart Journal: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-11-utter-neglect-rheumatic-heart-disease.html)
Our goal in Senegal is to work with the authorities to help prevent RHD with the ultimate ambitious goal to eradicate this avoidable neglected disease. Our first initiatives plan to take place in 2015 in Mbour.
Our program will start in Mbour and we hope to touch about 2,000 children, and following an evaluation we hope to replicate throughout Senegal.
The initial project includes:
Prevention and Information throughout M’bour about RHD
Treatment and Follow up For children diagnosed with rheumatic heart disease (incl. monthly penicillin injections at the District Hospital)
Thanks to meetings with key potential partners at Minister (Health and Education) and district level and visits to the local ‘postes de sante’ and ‘cases de sante’, NGOs and the local community we were able to cover a lot of ground. We also had a poignant meeting with the Head of the District Dr Fat’ma Fall. Dr Fall, herself a cardiologist, was overjoyed to hear that we are working on this program and made an emotional plea to reduce RHD in her district, herself seeing first hand the sufferings of young children for this preventable disease.
I left Senegal inspired by the connections made, eager for next steps to help the Senegalese children and thankful for the very warm welcome that we received. I was enthused by the resourcefulness of the Mbour community whether at the schools in the cooperative or in the fields.
This initiative is an important opportunity to help strengthen the health system in Senegal and to help children with strep throat receive the treatment they need. Only then can new cases of rheumatic heart disease be prevented. GHN’s role is that of the connector – putting all the right people together, finding the funds to ensure that this program is successful.
Our fundraising initiatives starts with a dinner and music in San Francisco on 14th January – locals please do join us at Bissop Baobab, 3372 19th St, please all come and enjoy delicious Senegalese food and music.