Tuesday 29th September – WORLD HEART DAY, activities at Hospital de Niños Santísima Trinidad, Cordoba, Argentina

World Heart Day, started in 2000, and is an international campaign to inform people about heart disease.World Heart Day takes place on 29 September every year and is a chance for people across the globe to take part in the world’s biggest intervention against cardiovascular disease.

In Cordoba Argentina the “Hospital de Niños Santísima Trinidad”, have created an incredible Heart Week ( September 28th – October 2nd ), where they will hold activities that promote preventions of cardiovascular diseases and promotion of healthy habits. The week is addressed at health professionals and to the general public. The activities include Cardiopulmonary Reanimation (CPR) workshops, and conferences about cardiac diseases, healthy nutrition, Hypertension, how to measure blood pressure, and a presentation of Provincial Program of Neonatals´and pediatrics ´Congenital Heart Disease. These activities have been made possible thanks to the Ministry of Health Health and its Prevention and Promotion Section; the dedicated Cardiovascular team of “Hospital de Niños Santisima Trinidad”, “Hospital de Niños´Foundation” and “Corazoncito Foundation” .
Furthermore, and with the intention of getting more people involved with heart health,
we have been helping to divulgate the activities and workshops that will be done during the “Heart Week”. If you are in Argentina, and specifically Cordoba please go along and spread the word.  Here is the schedule of activities

Schedule of Activities Heart Week, Córdoba

Healthy Hearts in Managua, Nicaragua – A conversation with Surgeons of Hope (SoH)

In this blog we continue our portrayal of organizations caring for and accompanying patients with heart disease in South America. Our conversation today is with Surgeon’s of Hope (SoH) Executive Director, Charles-Edouard CATHERINE (ChE) discussing their work in Managua, Nicaragua.  SoH have been a supporter of GHN’s vision and mission since the beginning thanks to SoH Board President Eduardo da Cruz, MD and we are immensely grateful for Dr da Cruz initial counsel as we all work to expand access to life-saving heart care around the world.

Charles-Edouard CATHERINE, Executive Director, Surgeons Of Hope
Charles-Edouard CATHERINE, Executive Director, Surgeons Of Hope

GHN:  Introduce us to Surgeons of Hope (SoH)

ChE : Surgeons of Hope strives to provide every infant and child with a damaged heart with an equal opportunity to receive life-saving surgery. Our head quarter is in Manhattan.

We have executed our model in Managua, Nicaragua, the first instance of our program in Latin America.  Our aim is to provide access to cardiac care to vulnerable infants and children in the poorest countries of the western hemisphere.  Our approach has a triple focus:

1. CURING:  We organize and send volunteer surgical teams from U.S. and European teaching hospitals to the poorest regions where our program will do the most good.  Each team includes 12-15 specialists needed to perform open-heart surgery on infants and children.  In one week, a team can perform ten surgeries to cure both congenital and acquired heart problems. 2. TRAINING:  Because teams are assembled from leading teaching hospitals and the medical professionals are also professors, they engage in intensive training of the target country’s local medical team, at first in demonstration, and eventually in collaboration, once the local team’s skills reach that standard.  This progression can occur after 15 to 20 such surgical missions.  Surgeons of Hope equips, supplies, and provides for the logistics of each team’s surgical mission.3. BUILDING:  As the local medical team’s surgical skills rise to the standard, Surgeons of Hope constructs a new, modern pediatric heart center in that country, equipping and supplying the new center with the latest in technology to ensure sustainability of the progress.

We are about to start a new program in Costa Rica and in Peru.

For more information please view a video made for SoH

GHN: How long have you been going for and what was the reason or inspiration for your NGO starting?

ChE: Surgeons of Hope was founded in 2001, the idea was to reproduce the resounding success of the Chaine de l’Espoir in France.

Maria Jose with patient Martha Alicia Vargas
Maria Jose with patient Martha Alicia Vargas
Patient Andro Pompero
Patient Andro Pompero
Surgery in Progress
Surgery in Progress

GHN: What do you feel are the biggest barriers to increasing access to cardiac care in your area?

ChE: Mainly cultural traits (lack of pro-activity and lack of interest to “own and be accountable for the cardiac program”)

GHN: What is the single biggest need your organization has in achieving its goals and mission?

ChE: As most small NGOs, our main issue is to have a steady and predictable stream of donations.

GHN: What is your organization doing to make global access to cardiac care sustainable?

ChE: Our first priority to achieve sustainability is to develop a great collaboration with local authorities, to gain the trust of our local partners and of the Government.

GHN: Describe any collaborations your organization has had with other organizations or stake holders working in similar fields to your own? Has there been any limitations to your communication?

ChE: We mainly work with:

Chaine de l’Espoir France, Chaine de l’Espoir Belgium, Heart Trust, Let It Beat, Hearts with Hope; multiple cardiovascular programs in the USA and in Europe

We organize missions together, share expertise and best practices.

We don’t really experiment any limitations with communication bridges. However, we do when we are looking for new partners.

GHN: How do you envision a collaborative technology platform (like GHN) that aim to improve communication and collaboration amongst stakeholders being able to help you achieve your goals in your respective field?

ChE: We provide strategic mentoring, benchmarking tools and optimization of resources (human, technical, equipment, etc.)

GHN: Do you have any specific stakeholders you would like to reach out to via the GHN Platform or this interview?  

ChE: We always welcome the opportunity to build new collaborations, especially with NGOs that work in Latin America.

Charles-Edouard was at the Global Forum in Geneva in June 2015 presenting SoH’s work to our audience.  Please contact Charles-Edouard directly for any further information about their programs in South America or connect with GHN for introductions.

Finally you may be curious to learn about Charles-Edouard’s personal and brave journey as he works relentlessly for access to care for children in Nicaragua.

GHN Intern Spotlight – meet Rawan Basel Abushaban

We are so happy to welcome Rawan to Global Heart Network team.  We wanted to introduce Rawan to the GHN community by asking her a little bit about herself and what she is learning about global health and cardiac care in general. Rawan explains how her stories changed not only her own perspective on disease treatment and prevention, but her perspective on life in its entirety.  Rawan is going into her  final year at UC Berkeley and now has a dream to work in healthcare, and to serve in the field of policy and management to develop strategies that combine all of these perspectives – and more – to ensure access to care for all.

We hope you enjoy meeting Rawan.  Thank you Rawan on behalf of GHN for your commitment and hard work for our mission.

Rawan Basel Abushaban
Rawan Basel Abushaban

“During my internship at the Global Heart Network Foundation, I’ve learned quite a lot about perspective.

Before joining GHN, I was new to global health and nonprofit organizations. In the three years I spent at UC Berkeley completing my major in English, I had gained little knowledge about health systems at the local level, much less on the international spectrum. That all changed when I decided that I shouldn’t limit myself to the obvious career paths that my academic choices suggest. I wanted to write and analyze, communicate and build, but I also wanted to apply myself and use my skills in the field that demanded my attention the most: healthcare.

I joined GHN as a business development intern in February, expecting to gain some quality experience in the fields of healthcare and nonprofit organizations, and with the high hopes of making a difference – somehow. What I gained was more than just experience; I gained perspective.

I had the opportunity to work closely with Annabel, a GHN co-founder, board member, and nonprofit expert. With Annabel as my guide and dear mentor, I saw through the eyes of transnational patients who reached out to GHN, asking for help from regions like West Africa and South India. I heard about their cases, read their messages, and understood their plights. Their stories changed not only my own perspective on disease treatment and prevention, but my perspective on life in its entirety. Seeing the unique needs of each patient that go unaddressed and unresolved by local healthcare administrators inspired my work. Being able to help others and see them benefit from the care GHN provides – whether it’s subsidizing surgery, educating students, or connecting patients to the doctors and resources they need – has instilled in me a love for global service and a passion for serving others in the healthcare field.

Cardiovascular disease is something that affects everyone. Whether you’re someone born with a congenital heart disease or impairment, or if someone close to you lives his or her life in and out of the hospital due to unsustainable cardiac treatment, or if you’ve joined your loved ones in the struggle to find access to healthcare, or if you live in a region where heart disease raises child, maternal, and infant mortalities and lowers life expectancy by decades, we are all part of the same community. The shocking disconnect between us is what impedes access to healthcare. It’s on us – doctors, caretakers, nonprofit managers, interns, and volunteers – to reach out and offer our support, and to remedy the ailment that we all suffer together.

The Global Heart Network is creating something that we all in desperately need: a network, a linkage, a means to connect us to one another in the pursuit of cardiac care and the longevity of life. This network is the one, cohesive solution that connects people to care. If we consolidate our efforts onto one single platform, the possibilities for cardiac care will be endless. Mothers in Senegal won’t lose their children to rheumatic heart disease before they graduate from elementary school. Parents in India won’t lose their babies to ventricular septal defects, or holes in their hearts, before they have a chance to live. If we can’t prevent a disease, we will bring ourselves closer to curing it. Whether you join to provide healthcare or to ask for it, GHN is a healthcare necessity to the world.

Going into my fourth and final year of school with new experiences under my belt, I now have a dream to work in healthcare, and to serve in the field of policy and management to develop strategies that combine all of these perspectives – and more – to ensure access to care for all.”

Bringing visibility to a great NGO working in Bolivia – Fundación Cardioinfantil

This month we interviewed Fundación Cardioinfantil working hard to bring heart surgery to Bolivia. We hope this lengthy interview will bring interest and further connections and cooperation with each other. Fundación Cardioinfantil are a prime example of the need for our Global Heart Network: they do not have access to all information about stakeholders that do a similar job and have no access to contact them and even institutions that might support them.  They are hoping that GHN will help bring them more visibility and discuss and find solutions to the needs and resources in Bolivia.  They are currently looking for stakeholders working in the field of reduction of incidence of rheumatic heart disease in LMICs and share experiences in proving cardiac care in LMICs.   Please do not hesitate to contact Camila  or connect directly with GHN for more information.

Please Introduce yourself:

Our NGO name is Fundación Cardioinfantil In year 2003  doctors Alexandra and Franz Freudenthal -both Bolivian- returned to La Paz after concluding their medical specialization in pediatric cardiology in Germany. After two years of giving diagnosis to cardiac children, they realized only 12% of the patients got the treatment (surgChipiriri (23)ery or therapeutical cardiac catheterization) they needed due to lack of resources. There is a single cardiac centre in Bolivia with over 30 years of experience within the field. The price of a heart surgery is unreachable for most of the cardiac children. This dramatic situation drove them to found the NGO based in Bonn, Germany to fundraise for lifesaving heart surgeries that take place in Bolivia. Locally, the Fundación Cardioinfantil was created in order to identify the children, and get them the help they need.

The mission of our NGO is to help low income patients and patients from rural areas of our country. In order to reach them we work with a wide network of pediatricians and doctors in the main hospitals of the urban cone of La Paz, city. Rural patients are regularly referred to these hospitals from health facilities in their villages. In this way we can reach an important quantity of cardiac children of the department of La Paz. In order to reach rural patients from other parts of the country we travel once a year to another region of the country and visit a rural health facility in order to offer diagnosis and access to treatment for cardiac patients. Rural Bolivia is like another world. Urban Bolivia has some modern facilities (very often overcrowded health services), but there patients are more likely to find specialists and get care or support. Rural Bolivia faces a lack of doctors, very often a limited number of doctors are responsible of providing care to two to three towns. Not only human resources are limited but also infrastructure and the means to perform prover diagnosis.The biggest challenge we face is dealing with rising prices from the hospital, where our patients get their treatment. This conditions our support since the only way to fund surgeries is through fundraising. One of the most outstanding patients’ story is from Rolando C. He was 13 when he was refered to a hospital of the urban cone back in 2007. His diagnosis: tetralogy of Fallot. He lived with his family in northern rural La Paz, rain forest. He was so affected by the disease that he could not walk anymore to school, but education was so important to him that his father carried him daily to school.  Rolandos’s family recurred to alternativel medical methods to “fix his heart”. Rolando visited some rainforest shamans before visiting the doctor in the city. The doctor at the hospital called our specialists.  The surgery was scheduled for the next day. He was transported to another city for the treatment. The surgery was sucessfull. Rolando ended up graduating from high school, going to college to become an Auditor and running his own family business. He provides a work place to most of his family and is healthy.

Fundación Cardioinfantil  in Bolivia Chipiriri (14)Our hope is that one day every single cardiac child in Bolivia will have access to treatment regardless of their income. We hope young doctors will tend to work to help patients in need and most important to do the best they can with they have where they are. We always had young doctors in our team. They are mostly trained for a period of time and keep on with the especialization in the field of peadiatric cardiology or others related.

We are inspired by the beauty of our country. Bolivia is an amazing country with high snowed mountains. The Andes take our breath away daily. We also have a never ending jungle, valleys, salt flats, interesting cultural
expressions, many ethnic groups, glorious food and very kind people.

Poverty is complex and a multidimensional phenomenon, which has to be solved from many dimensions. We think investment in health is one of the most cost-effective approaches to fight poverty. You are not only working to provide care to those in need, you are giving them  a life-chance, so they can choose the path they want to follow to become who ever they want. Of course health policies go hand in hand with proper education policies but we strongly believe that good health policies will help Bolivians to get out of poverty. Chipiriri (41) Chipiriri (29)

We are also inspired by the work of many people in other parts of the world that wants to improve the quality of life of cardiac children. There are so many inspiring stories from all around the world: in India, in Argentina, in Colombia, in the US, in Germany, in Austria, in Spain. All these experiences inspire us and give us the strength to reach our goal.

What do you feel are the biggest barriers to increasing access to cardiac care in your area?

Analyzing our health care system we conclude there barriers in all three levels. Some barriers at the primary level are the lack of tools to suspect from congenital heart diseases prior and after birth. Distance is also a barrier, especially for rural patients. Cardiac children are often refered to urban hospitals, but for some families costs associated to travel are a burden. Most families decline the trip and children stay in their rural communities without any treatment. There is an empowerment barrier at the secondary level. Very often peadiatricians think they cannot provide proper cardiac care and do not help the patient in searching for a solution to their problem. Patients need to get an answer. This can change with the empowerment of nurses that have most contact to patients.

At the tertiary level there is a lack of resources to get high-tech equipment and all the medication needed to offer proper cardiac care.

What is the single biggest need your organization has in achieving its goals and mission?

The single biggest need in achieving our goal and mission is the fact that cardiac children deserve a better quality of life like every other human of the planet. Having access to cardiac care should not depend on income or the place you where born in.

We are running a Project at the Children’s Hospital in La Paz to build the first pediatric cardiovascular department within the public health system of the country. The project consists in supporting capacity development in the field of peadiatric cardiology and intensive care unit  in order to improve the quality of health care at the Hospital. Medical and nursery staff are being trained in the Children’s Hospital “Juan P. Garrahan” in Buenos Aires, so that fresh- trained team can support young patients with heart pathologies during the surgery and after the procedure. The project will run until June 2016. The staff at the hospital has not yet started with basic heart surgery procedures but first surgeries are planned for January 2016.

Additionally we are training doctors, peadiatricians and nurses that work in hospitals of the urban cone and in rural health facilities of La Paz, Potosí, Chuquisaca and Oruro. Our goal is that cardiac children are identified soon enough and referred to the Children’s Hospital of La Paz so that they can get  treatment.

News from the Board

GHN Board of DirectorsLast week the GHN Board met in Geneva as a formal kick off to our Strategic Planning. Our search for our first Executive Director is now concluded and Myrtidiotissa Petropoulou will be introducing herself to you all shortly with our plans and cooperation details with hospitals with the potential to help humanitarian needs that come from the network. We remain focused at our mission to increase access to cardiac care, and working closely with our members to improve the technology to serve your needs. In September you will receive an impact survey designed specifically for GHN Members and those working in cardiac care in low and middle income countries to understand their communities and how people use and/or would like to use the GHN platform – so please take some time to respond to this important survey. Please contact us to be sure you are included in this important survey,

Member Profile – Dr R Prem Sekar

From Left to Right: Annabel Lavielle - GHN, Dr Ravi Agarwal, Madras Medical Mission and Dr Prem Sekar - Kauvery Hospital
From Left to Right:
Annabel Lavielle – GHN, Dr Ravi Agarwal, Madras Medical Mission and Dr Prem Sekar – Kauvery Hospital

In our monthly newsletter we continue to seize on the opportunity to introduce you to other Global Heart Network members with the aim of helping facilitate communication, that will lead to   collaboration and cooperation amongst you all.

This month we are focusing on Dr.R.Prem Sekar   MBBS.,MRCPI (Paed)., FRCP (Glasg), Senior Consultant Paediatric Interventional Cardiologist at Kauvery Hospital in Chennai . Over the last 18 months we have been working closely with Dr Sekar exploring opportunities for increasing access to care for the underserved. We also had the opportunity to finally meet with him at the 11th Global Forum on Humanitarian Medicine in Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery at the Geneva University Hospital, Geneva, Switzerland at the end of June.  Here is a photo of me with Dr Sekar, and Dr Agarwal, Senior Consultant Pediatric Cardiac Surgeon at the Madras Medical Mission, Chennai who will be featured in a future newsletter. It has been a privilege for us at GHN to work with both these magnificent human beings, who do so much for the underserved, and embrace the concept of a network, nationally and internationally to sustain and increase our efficiency and quality in cardiac care in low and middle income countries.

We interviewed Dr Sekar and this is what he has to say:

1.What do you feel are the biggest barriers to increasing access to cardiac care in your area?

As recently as in the previous decade, the proportion of children in India, growing up with undiagnosed cardiac problems was a significant number. This was attributed to factors such as the absence of a centralized newborn screening & reporting programs as well as the grossly deficient pediatric cardiac care delivery programs in the country. However, this decade has witnessed   tremendous growth in the number of pediatric cardiac centers, pediatric cardiologists and pediatric cardiac screening camps resulting in a significant decrease in the proportion of children with undiagnosed cardiac problems or late presentations.

The biggest barrier to access of cardiac care in southern Asia and India now is primarily the lack of financial affordability. This is because the majority of the patients are from economically challenged strata of the society and public hospitals with free pediatric cardiac programs are few in number and in some Asian countries totally absent. The predominant drivers of pediatric cardiac programs are the private sector hospitals with some form of public-private partnership where the subsidy offered by the government for cardiac procedures is insufficient.

Abdul Sudi Aged 4
Abdul Sudi Aged 4

2.What is the single biggest need your organization has in achieving its goals and mission?

The goal of Kauvery Paediatric Cardiac Care is to provide optimum cardiac care irrespective of the financial status of the child or of geographical boundaries.

The biggest need of our organization to achieve this goal and succeed in this mission is adequate funding for cardiac procedures.

3. What is your organization doing to make global access to cardiac care sustainable?

Towards supporting the cause of serving children with heart disease from financially underprivileged section of the community, the hospital has on 3rd August 2014, launched `SHINE@Kauvery’ – a save heart initiative for children. This is a sincere effort to instill hopes in the hearts of little ones who would grow up and shape the country`s future. The project`s primary objective is to provide partial financial assistance to children from underprivileged section of the society, irrespective of their place of origin in the world. Additionally, the project will also act as a platform for a Parent Support Group for parents of children who have undergone cardiac procedures at Kauvery Hospital, empowering them to help each other through interactions and to offer support to parents of children awaiting cardiac surgeries. The Corpus fund, gained through donations from kindhearted donors and charitable organizations, will be used for partial relief of financial needs for in-hospital procedures in deserving children and adults with birth defects of the heart.
4.Describe any collaborations your organization has had with other organizations or stake holders working in similar fields to your own? Has there been any limitations to your communication?

Have a Heart Foundation is a charitable trust based in Mumbai who work closely with Kauvery Paediatric Cardiac care supporting children needing open-heart surgeries with partial funding. Having their representative based in Chennai has ensured that there is no limitation in communications.

Women’s Welfare Syndicate Public Charitable Trust is a Non Governmental Organization based in Chennai who help by partially funding cardiac procedures as well as with advertisements in newspapers appealing for help on behalf of the needy children.

Collaboration with Global Heart Network has been the most promising as the ideologies of our organization and that of GHN appears to be matching. Global Heart Network has been a platform through which Kauvery Paediatric Cardiac Care could get international recognition and associations, the most prominent of them being Samahope. Samahope is a NGO based in San Fransisco, USA that works by identifying high impact but under-resourced caregivers and matches them with donors through crowd funding. After an introduction by GHN, Samahope representative visited Kauvery Hospital in April 2015 to evaluate the on-site facilities & needs. Kauvery Hospital was then identified as a High Impact center for interventional cardiac procedures in children with assurance of partial capital support from Samahope for children undergoing catheter based curative procedures in the heart such as device closures of ASD, VSD, PDA, balloon & stent angioplasties.   Despite being in different continents, the medium of internet has ensured there is no limitation in communication with GHN and Samahope.

5.How do you envision an online platform (like GHN) that aim to improve communication and collaboration amongst stakeholders being able to help you achieve your goals in your respective field?

An online platform like GHN with its network resources could not only open up access of global cardiac care to patients in this region, but could facilitate the reach of skillsets available in this region to the needy in the subcontinent, thus saving on huge costs as well as ensuring speedier intervention.

We remind readers of Global Heart Network’s mission to amplify change and increase patient access to cardiac care across the globe by  connecting independent efforts and initiatives to people in need. We have created an online platform, that acts as a portal for collaboration and communication to become a resource management tool serving professionals within the non-profit, philanthropic, government, and international development sectors, as well as medical personnel, volunteers and the patients. Join GHN Network today, or Contact us