Nov 24, 2015 News
–ready to conduct third bout of paediatric heart surgeries at GPHC
Guyana has one of the highest infant mortality situations in the Region. This translates to about 30 deaths per 1,000 live births. “This is very, very high,” said Dr. Rodrigo Soto, the Paediatric Cardiac Surgeon and Chief Executive Officer of Clinical Operations at the International Children’s Heart Foundation, also known as the Baby Heart Foundation.
He said that the inability to address issues such as congenital heart diseases is a major contributory factor to the prevailing state of affairs.
It was in recognition of this that Government, through the Ministry of Public Health, solicited the support of the Baby Heart Foundation to help address the problem. The organisation’s contribution in this regard was however first sought by the previous regime but has been retained by the coalesced A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change Government.
Baby Heart Foundation first arrived in Guyana in February of this year but conducted its first batch of paediatric heart surgeries at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) in April and another was done in July. Thus far, the team has completed 26 surgeries and conducted about six cardiac catheterisations (a procedure used to diagnose and treat cardiovascular conditions).
Dr. Soto and a team from the Foundation are currently in Guyana again to conduct a third bout of surgeries at the GPHC. The team will remain here for two weeks during which a minimum of 15 surgeries are expected to be completed in addition to a few interventional catheterisations.
“This year alone we are going to be serving over 50 patients in Guyana which means that they will have their problems solved, their lives changed completely in the prognosis and the expectation of their lives changed completely,” said Dr. Soto.
Speaking of the Foundation’s support here, Dr. Soto noted that “we realised the lack of the service; we realised the need of the service. The problem was that there were some installations that were not available such as a Paediatric ICU (Intensive Care Unit)…” said Dr. Soto who disclosed that Baby Heart Foundation worked in collaboration with the GPHC to setup a Paediatric ICU at the GPHC complete with all necessary implements.
Several donations have also been made to the hospital to facilitate the paediatric heart surgery programme.
But the Foundation has not only been focused on conducting surgeries as it has also been catering to the training needs of staffers at the public hospital. “They are really, really eager to participate with us…they have not only been growing in interest but also in knowledge…there is really good potential and I think that we are going in the right direction regarding the fact that we are addressing the issue of congenital heart disease,” Dr. Soto added.
With the support of the Foundation, Guyana is therefore able to reduce the cost of sending children abroad for paediatric heart surgeries and simultaneously cut cost to train medical personnel.
Dr. Soto added, “The fact that you guys don’t need to send patients anywhere else, the fact that the patients are at home with their family that helps the recovery…it helps everything that we do here.”
The Baby Heart Foundation is a not for profit organisation that is based in Memphis, United States which has been in existence since 1993. According to Dr. Soto, the organisation has 22 years of experience in sustainable and independent paediatric cardiac services around the world.
It has been able to offer paediatric heart care, through the expertise of mainly volunteer medical practitioners, to 33 countries and has thus far completed 7,604 surgeries. Its contributions to these countries has allowed for many of them to eventually offer crucial paediatric services independently.
“The modus operandi is to build a team, travel to the site that we decided on and we do two weeks trips during which we do surgeries but we do the surgeries actually to transfer knowledge and to educate the local team. So building capacity is what we are here for,” said Dr. Soto.
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