Team Heart is a non-profit medical organization focused on bringing sustainable cardiac care to Rwanda. Cardiovascular disease continues to be the leading cause of death in the world. Not a great deal is known about heart disease in Rwanda because of the lack of diagnostic and treatment options. Team Heart, with representatives from Cardiac Surgery, Cardiology, Anesthesiology, Nursing and volunteers from 15 states in USA and Canada, in collaboration with the Rwandan Ministry of Health and the Rwanda Heart Foundation (RHF), enter year thirteen of this project designed to address one the most common heart problems in Africa: rheumatic heart disease.
Heart disease in sub-Saharan Africa continues to represent one of the consequences of a generation of healthcare divestment. The Ministry of Health requested assistance in 2007 to help integrate rheumatic heart disease control into their national health agenda. While most developed countries have nearly eliminated rheumatic fever through penicillin prophylaxis programs, no sub-Saharan African country has accomplished this goal. A recent survey found only a handful of centers capable of performing cardiac surgery safely in Africa, almost all located in South and North Africa, compared with more than 4,000 such facilities in North America. With 16-20 million people affected by rheumatic heart disease globally, sub-Saharan Africa has almost half of the estimated 2.4 million school-aged children newly affected by the disease.
Team Heart travels to Rwanda once a year to operate on up to 16 teenagers/adults, and they have been working diligently to establish a permanent cardiac surgical program. A significant part has been supporting the training of local clinicians, which will be supplemented with more frequent trips through 2020 and upcoming years to transition to the self-sustaining Rwandan staff. They currently have two heart-lung machines, and Boehringer recently donated a VAVD Controller before its most recent mission. Dan Anderson, perfusion lead and clinical team coordinator, reported that they performed eight surgeries and that everyone was very appreciative of the donation. He stated, “They enabled us to perform the surgeries with greater ease and safety. Most of our patients are small, so we use 3/8-inch venous lines. The VAVD regulator allows us to use the smaller venous line, which lowers our prime volume”. Boehringer Laboratories is committed to the betterment of medicine around the globe, and we are proud to support this mission.
To learn more about Team Heart, visit their website here (https://teamheart.org/).
See a video from the National Rwandan news segment on Team Heart here: https://www.youtube.com/watchfeature=youtu.be&v=jrQb7UNQIu0&d=n&app=desktop
Team Heart Mission Statement: Working in partnership with the Rwandan Ministry of Health, the Rwanda Heart Foundation, and select global partners, Team Heart will address the burden of cardiac disease with the following goals:
· Establish a sustainable regional center of excellence in cardiac care, including cardiac surgery, a heart catheterization lab, rehabilitation and prevention, research, and education in partnership with Rwanda’s local partners.
· Address the suffering of adolescents and young adults afflicted with advanced rheumatic heart disease in Rwanda with surgical intervention to return to a productive and fulfilling life.
· Prevent advanced rheumatic heart disease through a combined effort of surveillance, prevention, education, and early intervention. This will prove to be an example of an effective, countrywide intervention against rheumatic heart disease that can inspire a scalable model in the region.
· Support advocacy and poverty reduction initiatives for the population of marginalized individuals who suffer from chronic heart disease and the resulting impact on their ability to support themselves and their families.
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