Gertler Family Foundation fights infant mortality in the DRC with children's heart care programme and cardiology training

Nov 25, 2013, 03:00 ET from Gertler Family Foundation

KISANGANI, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nov. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Hopital du Cinquantenaire de Kisangani (HCK), a signature Gertler Family Foundation (GFF) healthcare project, has begun a year-long clinical paediatric cardiology training program to raise the quality of treatment and diagnosis in the region to international standards.

Built in 2010, HCK remained shuttered because of lack of funds for two years. A $2 million contribution from the GFF, the largest charity in the DRC, in 2012 made it possible to fully equip, supply and open the hospital in January 2013.  Paediatric cardiology training, one of several new training programmes initiated at HCK, began this month and will continue until November 2014. All children diagnosed as requiring specialist cardiac attention will receive free treatment and follow-up care for the full duration of the programme.

"We have been health care pioneers in the DRC and we are especially proud of the work being done in Kisangani," said Dan Gertler, co-founder of GFF and senior advisor to the Fleurette Group. "Our goal is to support vulnerable people living in the region who previously had limited access to even the most basic healthcare services."

"It is our hope that by giving these doctors the tools and knowledge they need, we can help save the lives of children suffering with cardiac problems that would prove fatal without treatment," Gertler said.

In total, nine doctors from HCK and three from other hospitals in Province Orientale will receive advanced training every two months. Over 40 children with suspected cardiac problems will receive treatment at HCK during the initial 21-day training period. The average age of patients treated so far is 3.4 years old.

The programme will provide training in all aspects vascular physiology, history taking, patient examination, laboratory testing and medication prescription. In addition, participating doctors will be fully trained on the use of HCK's Doppler/ultrasound and electrocardiogram equipment.

"For many years there was no medical heath center in Kisangani and patients had access to only the most basic of treatment. The support of the GFF allows us to make a real difference, serving as a hub for vital medical care in the region," explained Dr J. Andre Hattingh, Medical Director at HCK.

"This training programme will bring our doctors' treatment and diagnosis of paediatric cardio patients up to international standards and help save young lives," Hattingh said. "By including participants from outside HCK in the programme, these doctors can go back and educate less experienced colleagues in their hospitals and clinics."

The training programme at HCK is being conducted by Dr. Rene Lumu, a specialist paediatric cardiologist from the University Hospital of Kinshasa.

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SOURCE Gertler Family Foundation