We have led sixteen medical missions to Mulago Hospital since 2003; the last eight have focused on performing open heart surgery and cardiac catheterization at the Uganda Heart Institute.
The goals of these missions have been to perform heart surgery with the Ugandan medical team, diagnose children with heart disease, facilitate treatment of these children abroad when needed, conduct collaborative research to reduce the burden of Rheumatic Heart Disease, and, most importantly, build a sustainable cardiac surgery program in Uganda through education, donation of technology, patient care, and meetings with hospital and government officials.
Ongoing education and advancement of the cardiovascular program is critical to prevent the “brain drain” of young physicians and nurses that are being trained.
The Uganda Heart Institute has met many of the requirements to move forward, so our goal is to have a sustainable and independent heart surgery program within five years in Uganda. The way forward includes sponsoring up to four missions per year and the Ugandan heart surgery and catheterization teams performing, in between missions, at least two procedures per week with advancing level of complexity.
We also want to continue to collaborate to reduce the burden of Rheumatic Heart Disease and care for children abroad who have heart defects that cannot be treated in Uganda.