A group of nine Ghanaian cardiology physicians have undergone a special echocardiography course at the German Heart Centre, Berlin and Charite University Hospital, Berlin to help improve cardiovascular health care for the underserved communities in Ghana.
It forms part of efforts to develop resilience in cardiovascular healthcare in Ghana during future health crisis.
The nine cardiology physician trainees are from the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital and Cape Coast Teaching Hospital.
A cardiologist is a medical doctor who studies and treats diseases and conditions of the cardiovascular system, involving the heart and blood vessels, including heart rhythm disorders, coronary artery disease, heart attacks, heart defects and infections, and related disorders.
Professor Yankah, President of Pan African Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery (PASCaTS)/Global Heart Care (GHC), Director of Cardiac Surgery Simulation Training and Humanitarian Cardiac Surgery, and organiser of the programme, said the doctors undertook the master class transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) course called AfroEcho Course, Berlin 2021.
In a statement copied by the Ghanaian Times, he explained that “TEE is a diagnostic telescopic test using an ultrasound probe that is passed into the esophagus of the patient and placed at the level to the heart to obtain a high resolution image of the heart structures and muscle.”
The procedures assess the structure and functions of the heart for corrective measures.
The course, he said, was conducted under strict COVID-19 hygiene regulations and controlled environment (full vaccination, wearing of FFP-2 masks, daily group transportation in a bus).
He said Ghana had only one qualified paediatric cardiologist and 14 adult cardiologists for over 30 million population.
In response to this precarious situation, Prof. Yankah said that the center signed a development cooperation with the KBTU to build capacity to improve cardiology service delivery in Ghana.
He added that German Heart Centre in Berlin had provided additional paediatric echocardiograpgy training courses incorporated into the adult programme.
“Next year, seven trainees of the 13 physicians of PASCaTS/Global Heart Care echo group will become cardiology specialists who are able to diagnose congenital (paediatric) and adult heart diseases,” he said.
“The impact of our programme is, as from next year, Ghana will have eight cardiologists who can perform paediatric echcardiography and interpret the images for diagnosis and therapeutic recommendations to save lives of many children in Ghana.”
It is estimated that every third or fourth adult in Africa is confounded with cardiovascular disease risk factors such as diabetes II and hypertension.
Consequently, physicians in Africa are challenged with early proper diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart and rheumatic diseases.
The situation, therefore, demands immediate training programme for physicians in echocardiography to improve the capacity and the accessibility for cardiographic diagnostic services for the underserved communities.