Conference in Abuja, Nigeria, late September, early October 2009.
Heart Friends Around The World attended the second Pan-African Congress on cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes. The first experience was in Sub Saharan Africa in Kenya in 2007, where Dr. Flavio Burgarella, founder and executive director, set up the Affiliated Group of students from the University of Nairobi. The second experience was in 2008, when a workshop on basic cardiology research was organized and sponsored involving academic professors. The year 2009 is the year of Nigeria.
In this corner of the world, from where so many immigrants arrive in Bergamo, Italy, three hundred cardiologists from across Africa met, trying to clarify the situation on cardiovascular disease.
The World Health Organization has estimated that in 2020 more than 80% of heart disease, including coronary heart disease, will affect poor countries, where there are no facilities for treatment.
In the major hospitals of Senegal, for example, heart attack in hospital (when the patient is lucky enough to arrive live in hospital, with an average delay of 12 hours after symptom onset) has a mortality of 15%, rising to 25% after 6 months. If we compare it to the hospital mortality for heart attack in Bergamo, which is less than 2%, we already see the existing gap. We know that the average age of these patients is around 50-55 years: there is no assurance from the State for hospital admissions and the available drugs are expensive and difficult to obtain. It is so easy to guess at what health emergency will face the Black Africa over the next ten or twenty years.
The cardiologists are young, have a clean face; you can read in their eyes the quest for hope. They need everything, but mainly to get their own experience.
That is the reason why Heart Friends Around The World will host the next summer in Italy, in San Pellegrino Terme, at the “Casa di Cura Dr. Quarenghi” Cardiac Rehabilitation Center, some African cardiologists for a week, offering them accommodation, excluding travel expenses. They will learn how to treat coronary heart disease, prevention and rehabilitation, as well as being close to the cardiac patient in the difficult path towards the recovery of his/her physical, mental and spiritual integrity after the illness.
The booklet of health education “Pinocchio and the sore throat” was also written in English and published online, downloadable from the website www.burgarella.it, for the prevention of rheumatic diseases in children. If not treated in time with penicillin, a drug available in Africa, rheumatic diseases will lead to deformations of the heart valves in adults, resulting in heart failure and in the need for cardiac surgery, not available there. The fairy tale, so easily printable in the required quantity, can be used by teachers of primary schools, with the collaboration of doctors and nurses, to teach children and their mothers how to prevent and treat disease, starting with just a sore throat caused by streptococcus. These are the future engagements of Heart Friends Around The World, in accordance with their recently published “Manifesto” (www.hfatw.org), whose vision is the promotion of the Good by the promotion of health.
Founder and Executive Director Heart Friends