Stories about: Ghana

Boston Children’s role in the Global Health Delivery Partnership

By Kim Wilson, MD, MPH, associate director of the Global Pediatrics Program.

For most children in the United States, seeing a pediatrician is an annual event. For other children, especially those with more complex problems, visits to pediatric subspecialists are common. But in many parts of the world seeing any type of doctor, pediatric specialist or not, is simply impossible.

Ever year eight million children die in developing nations where there are few or no doctors and nurses trained in pediatric care. What’s worse, many of these deaths are preventable. Public health initiatives that increase access to clean water and improve nutrition have done much to contain these numbers, but more needs to be done to provide quality health care to children all over the world.

As Paul Farmer, MD, founder of Partners in Health (PIH) and Chair of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, recently stated, the clinical expertise we have at Boston Children’s Hospital can have a profound affect in achieving this goal. And I’m proud to say that our physicians and nurses have taken on this challenge, with global health activities happening in over 160 different sites, including ongoing programs in Haiti, Rwanda, Liberia, Ghana and Uganda.

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Children’s global health: treating the young hearts of Ghana

This November, a team of 21 medical specialists, including several from Children’s Hospital Boston, traveled to Kumasi, Ghana to care for children with congenital heart defects. As members of the non-profit organization Hearts and Minds of Ghana, the team is part of an ongoing effort to treat patients and train and educate local Kumasi medical professionals with the hopes that a self-sustaining pediatric cardiac center can soon be established in the region.

Lead by Francis Fynn-Thompson, MD, surgical director of Children’s #1 ranked Heart Transplant program, surgical director of our Lung Transplant Program and a surgeon in our #1 ranked Cardiac Surgery Program, the Children’s team explains why they volunteer their time and efforts to the people of Ghana.

While in Ghana, members of the team blogged about their experiences. The following excerpt was originally posted in the Children’s in Ghana Blog.

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Children's goes back to Ghana

Cardiac surgeon Francis Fynn-Thompson, MD, has had a busy year. First, he and his patient Sara Dumas were featured on the ABC program Boston Med when he transplanted a new heart into Sara. Now, he’s back in his home country of Ghana, where he’s leading a team of doctors, nurses and volunteers in an ongoing mission to perform much-needed open-heart surgery on children with complex heart conditions in a country with no pediatric cardiac surgeons.

Follow the efforts of the team as they blog from the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana. They’ve already gone through the grueling decision day (where the doctors and nurses decide which children are good candidates for surgery and which are not) and have operated on the first group of patients. Now begin full days of surgery, recovery and evaluation on kids whose lives will be changed forever by the Children’s team.

Dr. Fynn-Thompson and his mission to Ghana were featured on Good Morning America in 2008. Read the story and watch the piece by Dr. Tim Johnson here.

And, here, watch a video, created in the spring of 2008, in which Dr. Fynn-Thompson describes the mission.

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Children's heart team back in Ghana

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Mark Scheurer, MD, evaluates a child during a pre-surgical clinic in Ghana

For two years, a team of surgeons, physicians, nurses and volunteers has been going to the West African nation of Ghana to operate on and care for children with heart conditions that would otherwise go untreated.

The team started a blog in March 2008 so others could follow them on their adventure and have updated it each time they’ve visited since. They’re there now and are blogging about the children they’re seeing, the challenges they’re facing and the work they had to do to get the whole operation up and running.

Keep an eye on the blog while the team is away and read a story and watch a video detailing the mission and why it’s so important to Children’s cardiovascular surgeon Francis Fynn-Thompson, MD, a native of Ghana.

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