From March 17th to 19th in Lilongwe, the second Course of Telecardiology, “Saving the Heart”, took place. 62 people including doctors, nurses and technicians from Malawi, Kenya and Tanzania attended the course organized by the Azienda Ospedaliera S.Giovanni Addolorata in Rome and the Community of Sant’Egidio.
The course, carried out by Dr. Giorgio Scaffidi – Head at the Emergency Cardiology UOSD - and by Dr. Michelangelo Bartolo – Head of Telemedicine at UOS – is part of a cooperation program started several years ago and which has already seen the creation of three centers of Telecardiology in Tanzania.
In fact it is several years now that the Azienda Ospedaliera San Giovanni Addolorata in Rome carries out teleconsultations and remote reporting of electrocardiograms coming from health centers in Africa.
About 600 teleconsultations were carried out to date, guaranteeing diagnosis and therapeutic indications to patients who would not have been able to benefit of cardiologic advice at all.
The course ended with the speech of Dr. Kelita Kamoto, Head of the National Diagnostics Department of the Ministry of Health, who underlined the importance for Malawi of this type of cooperation, which will allow to save many lives.
At the end of the course a new station for Telecardiology was set up at the DREAM center of Mthengo wa Ntenga. A modern electrocardiograph is in function, thanks to a recent funding by the Department for International Cooperation of the Lazio region to the San Giovanni Hospital. It is useful not only for DREAM patients but also for the patients of the adjacent diocesan hospital.
Since the DREAM center can count upon satellite connectivity, an electrical system provided with a stabilizer, a UPS and a generator – which are essential elements for the smooth operation and long life of services – it is well suited to accommodate this new Telecardiology station.
Several studies have highlighted the growth of certain types of cardiomyopathy associated with HIV, especially in pregnant women.
It is some years now that the increase of cardiovascular diseases in Africa has been documented by various studies and international surveys. Since 2005 the World Health Organization (WHO) emphasizes that “cardiovascular diseases are rapidly increasing in Africa and represent a new public health problem”, (Regional Office for Africa 2005).
The following year the Malawi Medical Journal denounced that in Malawi cardiovascular diseases are the sixth leading causes of mortality.
An investigation by the Ministry of Health of Malawi, carried out in cooperation with WHO and published in June 2010, involved a population of 5200 individuals. It has shown that one third of the analyzed population suffers from hypertension and only 5% are being treated.
From now on the electrocardiograms made in Mthengo wa Ntenga will be reported at the Cardiology Center of the roman Hospital; correct diagnostics and therapeutic indications will then be offered to cardiac patients. And many lives can be saved.