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.
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.
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.