Mozambique: Cardiac Care
Population: 28.8 million
In 1992, Mozambique emerged from fifteen years of war that followed a centuries-long history of colonialism. The war was noted for its brutality, which left a lasting impact on the people there – though a peace held for many years until skirmishes in the country again took over, forcing some to flee to neighboring countries, like Malawi. Adding to these challenges, Mozambique has been hit hard by recent natural disasters like 2019’s Tropical Cyclone Idai, wreaking havoc and inflicting massive damage on a population largely living in poverty. Today, the country ranks 181 out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index.
USFC has a strong foothold in the country through the Maputo Heart Institute, established in 2001, focusing on treatment and training to tackle the significant health challenges in Mozambique. In particular, maternal and neonatal mortality – which accounts for approximately 40% of total infant mortality – remains dangerously high due to low quality care, lack of expertise and poor access. A major focus through 2025 is further development of the health workforce to meet these challenges, although IMF decisions to suspend loans to the country and the freezing of general budget support from many governments as a result means that an overwhelming responsibility for this growth falls to NGOs.
- An estimated 0.055 physicians per 1,000 people and 0.401 nurses and midwives per 1,000 people.
- Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births): 27.1
- Under-5 mortality rate (per 1,000 live births): 71.3
*Estimates Developed by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UNICEF, WHO, World Bank, UN DESA Population Division)
Through our partnership with the Maputo Heart Institute, we prioritize growing capacities in cardiology and cardiac surgery. The responsibilities of visiting surgeons through USFC-led missions are high, given that Mozambican surgeons are currently only capable of dealing with relatively simple pathologies, VSD (Ventricular Septal Defect) and Tetralogy of Fallot. This means we take a strong leading role in providing care, while urgently prioritizing the elevation of medical capacities through training for greater impact.
In recent years, our work has included two medical missions per year to the Maputo Heart Institute. This typically includes a volunteer team of 6 medical professionals (cardiologists, anesthetists and surgeons) sent to train the local healthcare teams. During each visit, approximately 30 children receive surgical or interventional cardiology treatments. Independently, the local Maputo Heart Institute team in Mozambique typically carries out 3 heart surgeries per week, with comparable survivability rates to American and French hospitals.
Each year, we organize two interventional cardiac catheterization missions, one of which is paired with a cardiac surgery mission. In those visits, approximately 30 children benefit from therapeutic procedures. We ensure that the team also travels with disposable goods and instruments that will support at least 100 interventions for children in need.
In addition to these direct care interventions, our visits are paired with training in operating suites for various local medical personnel, including perfusionists, operating room nurses, nurse anesthetists, anesthetists and intensive care specialists.
We are incredibly proud of the ongoing partnership with and support given to the Maputo Heart Institute. It is largely financially independent at this stage following more intensive monetary support from USFC, because we have worked with the operational team to expand and diversify the medical activities offered at the Institute. Today, in addition to cardiac surgeries, they offer general surgery, ophthalmology, orthopedics, medical imaging, pharmacy and medical laboratory services. The quality of these services, as well as the ongoing instruction and relationships with large European and American institutions of cardiology, make the Maputo Heart Institute an important point of reference in the Mozambican health care system.