Cardiac disease is not limited to one particular pathology, ailment or defect. It affects a huge range of patients, all of whom require clinicians and nursing teams who offer different skills and specialities. Chain of Hope strives to bring help to all paediatric patients suffering from heart disease, and will focus on one particular defect per mission which will be led by a Chain of Hope surgeon who specialises in that particular area of cardiovascular care. Very often the missions will focus on neglected forms of heart disease, including those which are now very rarely seen in paediatric patients in the developed world. To compliment this, Chain of Hope has also begun to support small scale research projects to study the prevalence and prevention of these neglected diseases in the countries in which we work.
Across the developing world, approximately 2% of children contract rheumatic heart disease, a disease that has been almost eradicated in Europe and America.
Rheumatic heart disease starts with a throat infection (Strep Throat), which can be treated with penicillin. If left untreated, it can develop into rheumatic fever, which in turn can develop into rheumatic heart disease, which slowly destroys the valves in the heart.
With greater awareness, throat swabs and better access to penicillin, rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease could be avoided, and thousands of lives could be saved.
Currently, the only cure for rheumatic heart disease is surgical or catheter intervention, procedures which the majority of the sufferers have no access to, and cannot afford.
We have been funding research into the prevention of this debilitating disease in collaboration with the Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET) and Jimma University, in the Western Highlands of Ethiopia. We hope to replicate the Jimma prevalence study in different countries. Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub is also working on a vaccine in Qatar.
Meet Haile, who suffered from rheumatic heart disease for two years.
In Mozambique, Chain of Hope has donated a portable echocardiography machine (GE Healthcare Vivid I) to enable the Maputo Heart Institute to research the prevalence of endomyocardial fibrosis in rural areas of Mozambique. The findings indicate that this progressive disease afflicts up to 18% of people in certain areas of Mozambique.
Dr Ana Olga Mocumbi’s innovative research at the Maputo Heart Institute has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which you can read here.
Chain of Hope has also invested in researching the impact of HIV on the heart in Malawi, in collaboration with Blantyre University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Chain of Hope has donated a portable echocardiography machine for Dr Noel Kayange to screen patients in Malawi, as well as to carry out various assessments. He has enrolled 504 participants in a study, whereby he hopes to put together an assessment on the effects of HIV on the heart, and the effects of HIV in the presence of antiretroviral therapy (ART).