UGMC to perform historic mass paediatric cardiac catheterisations  

University Ghana Medical Centre

The University of Ghana Medical Centre (UGMC) is set to undertake a historic exercise in the nation’s healthcare delivery sector as it prepares to undertake 35 paediatric cardiac catheterisations in one week.

Paediatric cardiac catheterisation is a medical procedure to correct a congenital heart defect, which is a problem with the heart’s structure that a child is sometimes born with – such as a Ventricular septal defect (a hole in the heart), Atrial septal defect, Patent ductus arteriosus, Pulmonary stenosis, Tetralogy of Fallot and other critical congenital heart defects.

The procedure, which will be performed by a team of nine specialists from Canada, the USA, Qatar and Jordan with assistance from the UGMC’s cardiologists, is expected to provide a platform for skills transfer and enhancement of the UGMC staff’s capacity to perform the same in future.

The UGMC, with funding support from the Qatar Charity – a humanitarian and development non-governmental organisation (NGO) established to ensure crisis-affected people receive the assistance needed to survive and recover, will carry out a minimally invasive surgery also known as cardiac catheterisation on the35 diagnosed  children.

Unfortunately, about 70 children were diagnosed with the condition but some lost their lives while under treatment and awaiting surgery, while others opted out along the line.

In May 2023, the UGMC through a pilot programme successfully conducted its first, historic paediatric catheterisations for three children. Based on the success of that pilot, the Qatar Charity is sponsoring the first phase of this procedure – which success will enable further extension of the partnership.

Director of Medical Affairs-UGMC, Dr. Kwame Anim-Boamah, expressed his excitement about the partnership and mentioned that the exercise offers a great learning opportunity for the institution to become a lead-specialist healthcare provider in the West African sub-region.

“What is special and historic about this procedure is that it’s going to be minimally invasive, which means it’s not going to be an open-heart surgery. The advantages of this are that patients will suffer less damage to the body than with open surgery, have a higher accuracy rate, experience less pain and recover faster.

The treatment for each person is estimated to cost between US$2,500 to US$3,000. But the other important requirement is availability of a state-of-the-art cardiac catheterisation laboratory, which the UGMC possesses.

The project is being coordinated by Prof. Nana Akyaa Yao, Consultant Paediatric & Congenital Cardiologist for UGMC and Korle-Bu; and the medical team will be led by Dr. Mohammed Numan, a Paediatric Cardiologist from the University of Texas, USA.

Director of Programmes and International Development, International Programmes and Development Department-Qatar Charity, Abdulaziz Jassim Hejji, stressed that the ultimate objective of the funding support is to alleviate the pain of these children and put smiles on their faces.

“UGMC has the best facilities for this kind of exercise in the country and we are committed to putting smiles on the faces of these children. We are hoping to continue with this initiative of bringing happiness to many other children who are going through similar challenges.

“We have a huge programme that comprises three parts: congenital heart diseases; cleft-pallete disorder; and cataract-removal surgery. So, we are targetting hundreds of children through this nationwide initiative,” he said.

On his part, the Director of Qatar Charity-Ghana office, Hassan Owda, mentioned that since its establishment in 2018 the organisation has been working in the areas of economic empowerment, education, healthcare, water and sanitation among others to alleviate poverty.

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