On November 17th, USFC organized a special virtual panel discussion: Training without Borders: Replicable Systems of Sustainable Healthcare in the Global South moderated by Emmy-award winning journalist Leyna Nguyen.
During the event, USFC had the opportunity to share more about the cardiac surgery training program which was first implemented in the Ho Chi Minh City Heart Institute. Following USFC’s rigorous training program, the medical team in Vietnam was autonomous only 8 years after opening its doors. Today, it’s become a reference center for the entire region. Using this experience, USFC launched similar hospital programs in Cambodia, Mozambique and most recently in Senegal with the Cuomo Center for Pediatric Cardiology which was opened in Dakar in 2017 as a cardiac hub for Western Africa.
Shortly thereafter, USFC’s unique Global South Training Cooperation was founded between the Ho Chi Minh Heart Center and the Cuomo Center for Pediatric Cardiology to enable surgical teams of doctors, surgeons, doctors and nurses from Senegal to live and train in Vietnam for 6 months while studying under the Ho Chi Minh City surgical teams.
As shared by Professor Phan Nguyen during the event, “Not only is this a financially sustainable method of training, but the similar socio-economic profiles of these countries result in similar pathologies – making it the best way to learn.” In both Vietnam and Senegal, the majority of cardiac surgery cases are much more complex than what teams would have the ability to study in Europe or the US.
There is an immense need for medical training globally with multiplier effects for populations around the world. Professor Bara Diop explained the main challenge is that “Senegal has a population of over 15 million and yet there is only one heart center. As a comparison, in the US, one center serves 120,000 inhabitants.” It’s very clear that one single hospital cannot serve a population of this size, especially since the Cuomo Center for Pediatric Cardiology acts as a reference center for the whole of Western Africa.
Surgical waiting lists in developing countries around the world are large and growing larger every day. Training of local surgical teams is the only way to decrease this number. During the event, Professor Alain Deloche shared that, “the cost to provide 6-months of training for a surgical team of 8 is roughly $55,000.” This is less than the cost of one single heart surgery in the US, but USFC needs more coordination and support to build these types of training partnerships.
The stories and lessons shared are not unique to cardiac surgery and they are not only applicable in Vietnam and Senegal. These are training models that can be replicated in any surgical specialty in many regions of the world – with the ability to impact the lives of sick children globally. For more information on USFC’s Global South Training Cooperation or our other projects, please don’t hesitate to reach out. To support this program and make a difference for a child on a surgical waiting list, please consider donating today.