GEI’s inaugural Emergency Cardiac Care trainings in Rwanda
by Dr. Michael Grosspietsch (GEI Executive Director)
“I’m so excited that they picked us to come.” These are the words of Linda Bell, an experienced international instructor and CEO of an American Heart Association training center based in Jacksonville, Florida. “They are the most motivated students I’ve ever had. They really want to know the material and ask a lot of questions.”
Linda recently led our inaugural all-women delegation of instructors to Rwanda where they taught the Advanced Cardiac Life Support curriculum to 80 of the country’s leading doctors and nurses at King Faisal Hospital. “I see my role as helping King Faisal Hospital help others; I want to leave them with the tools and I want to inspire them”.
Emergency Cardiac Care is GEI’s newest health intervention area where international volunteer delegations can contribute to the development of professional capacity in countries like Rwanda. And it is a crucial one, given that heart diseases are the number 1 cause of death in the world, killing 17.3 million people each year. The risks are growing due to factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and obesity, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, diabetes and raised cholesterol. In many countries, however, and especially in the developing world, there are very few qualified health professionals who are trained to deal with a cardiovascular emergency.
Rwanda is a case in point. Without a specialized training center, the country has to rely on the knowledge and skills of expats and the very few Rwandans who have undergone training abroad. This difficult situation is now hopefully going to improve. Not only will we host further capacity development delegations in the country, led by Linda and other instructors who will train an increasingly large core group of local health professionals in these critical skills. But we are also supporting King Faisal Hospital to become its own international training center, the first in the wider region.
This is a fundamental step towards reducing the number of deaths caused by cardiovascular diseases in Rwanda and beyond – and an excellent example of our intervention programs’ impact.