By John Agaba
A team of 15 US Cardiologists are in Uganda correcting heart defects for about 24 children.
They are also training local physicians at the Uganda Heart Institute (UHI) on advanced medicine in correcting heart defects, especially the congenital heart disease which is common among children.
The team led by Dr. Kanishka Ratnayaka, a pediatric interventional cardiologist from the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., USA, arrived on Sunday. They started work Monday at the pediatric cardiac catheterization facility at the Uganda Heart Institute.
The team includes pediatric nurses, technical assistants, anaesthesia specialists, an intensive care expert and a cardiologist.
They will be at the institute up to Saturday, February 15.
Dr. Jattu Senesie from the U.S based Non-Governmental Organisation, World Children's Initiative (WCI), said the team will treat 24 children.
"We are going to do three (3) to four (4) heart procedures every day from Monday to Saturday," she said.
During this time, she added, the team will also train local heart experts from the UHI.
"We shall train the UHI physicians so they can carry out heart procedures by themselves, without the presence or aid of foreign doctors," she said. "The procedures and the training will happen at the same time. We shall be carrying out the trainings as the procedures go on."
It's not the first time the team is in Uganda. According to Senesie, in 2012, the WCI team, together with Cardiologists at the UHI performed the first-ever pediatric cardiac catheterization in Uganda, fixing heart defects in two children who are now healthy and thriving. In 2013, the combined WCI-UHI team treated 12 more children, "with each procedure providing the opportunity for training and skill-acquisition."
Senesie said during this six-day clinic, the US experts will continue working with experts at the UHI to further expand their exposure to advanced pediatric cardiology procedures.
Congenital heart disease, clinical name for a cardiac birth defect, is the commonest birth defect in the world.
In Africa, according to the World Health Organisation, less than one percent of children receive the treatment necessary to allow them to live past the age of 10. In Uganda, about 10,000 children are born every year with cardiac birth defects.
US cardiologists perform surgeries in Uganda