SHARE: Sustain Health Development in Africa through Responsible Education

SHARE (Sustain Health Development in Africa)

Sustain Health Development in Africa through Responsible Education

Africa: the next Frontier!

Sustain Health Development in Africa through Responsible Education (SHARE) is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) and its mission is to help develop local and autonomous, diagnostic and interventional cardiovascular units within Sub-Saharan Africa. It focuses on the education and training of the entire medical teams involved in these units, and its core belief is that this in turn will help to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in both adults and children.

How can PCR contribute to this ambitious objective?

PCR is committed to its ethos, which is “to serve the needs of each individual patient by helping the cardiovascular community share knowledge, experience and practice”. As a result, Sub-Saharan countries should be central to our ambitions as what we can achieve with these countries will have a higher impact on diagnosed and treated patients than anywhere else.

EuroPCR is a leading course in interventional medicine, and attracts cardiovascular interventionists from around the world. Many of its experienced participants from Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific, North & South Africa are deeply committed to education. However, we still only have a very small number of cardiologists coming from Sub-Saharan African countries to EuroPCR. Cardiologists from this region are hungry for more education, more tutoring, more training, more fellowship programmes – there is a huge unmet need! The question, therefore, WHO does SHARE, needs to meet its ambition of developing fellowship programmes for African cardiologists committed to building up diagnostic and interventional cathlab units in their countries. It needs:

  • Experienced cathlab teams from Europe, Americas, Asia-Pacific and North & South Africa willing to commit to train cardiologists, cathlab technicians & nurses from Sub-Saharan countries;
  • “Trainees” from Sub-Saharan countries willing to invest in medium/long-term fellowship programmes and committed to developing a practice in their home countries;
  • Industry partners willing to contribute funds and resources to include African fellows in their respective development programmes.

How does SHARE help?

  • It connects experienced teams with African cardiologists, technicians and nurses;
  • It provides learning objectives for the SHARE fellowship programme, depending on the former experience of the trainee, the duration of the fellowship programme and the existing structure in his/her home country;
  • It provides partial financial support to develop such partnerships.

Has this type initiative ever worked?

Yes, it did and continues to do so. In Mauritania capital city (Nouakchott), the combined efforts of the Mauritanian healthcare authorities and the unabashed perseverance and commitment of Francois Bourlon (Monaco), the Cardiology National Centre (CNC) lead to the building of a diagnostic and interventional cathlab unit. Two Mauritanian cardiologists, one cathlab technician and two nurses have been trained at Centre Cardiothoracique de Monaco, and another cardiologist was trained in Toulouse (University Hospital) from 2006 to 2010. Since then, more than 500 catheterised diagnostic procedures and more than 150 simple but critical angioplasties have been performed in Nouakchott. Without the interventional cathlab unit in Nouakchott, many patients would have been left undiagnosed or would have to travel to other countries for their conditions to be assessed. The social and financial burden to the countries that have to see patients who cannot be managed in their countries cannot be underestimated - not to mention the negative impact on the individual patient’s quality of life

How many other patients in Africa could benefit from such developments as the Nouakchott cathlab? The answer is simple: as many as our human and material resources can afford. All macro-economic reports refer to the recent emergence of a middle class in Africa, and these people have the legitimate desire to have access to medical care for their families. The most crucial investments reside in education. Our duty and ambition at SHARE, and equally so at PCR, is to direct the goodwill and means of many of us, experienced physicians, technicians, nurses and industry partners, to help develop talented African individuals to do good to their country people.

Projects

Founded nine years ago by Prof Jean Marco (France) and Dr Francois Bourlon (Monaco), who has been largely instrumental in driving it, SHARE is a non-profit organisation that provides essential training to African cath lab staff by linking them with experienced teams in Europe, the USA and Asia-Pacific. It’s aimed at those African cardiologists who wish to build a local diagnostic and interventional practice and need to develop their skills.

‘Africa has 1.1 billion people in 54 countries, only 20 of which have a cath lab’, said Dr Bourlon. ‘We therefore saw a need for a training organisation, which is funded by the private sector and industry partners.’

SHARE’s first initiative was the establishment of a medicosurgical centre in Nouakchott, Mauritania, North Africa. ‘We started from nothing, which makes it a significant achievement. The centre comprises one cath lab, two operating theatres, one recovery room, one sterilisation unit and one in-patient unit. With the assistance of the Europa Organisation, we have trained four cardiologists and four allied health professionals, who committed to return to Mauritania once their training was finished and submit written activity reports every three months. The unit is now autonomous, undertaking angiography, percutaneous interventions and cardiac surgery. It has even organised its own congress.’

Now SHARE is facilitating the training of an interventional cardiologist in mitral valvuloplasty. He is currently based in Morocco, further to a year of training in Italy. ‘We’re also developing training material for nurses and allied professionals in the form of short educational films that will be made available on YouTube’, said Dr Bourlon.

With its Mauritanian initiative successfully completed, SHARE has turned its attention to Mali in West Africa with a view to duplicating the Mauritanian experience. ‘There is currently no such facility in the capital, Bamako, so we are looking to design and build a cath lab there. The initial steps are under way, including one cardiologist currently being trained in Monaco.’

SHARE’s vision for the future is to consolidate its actions in Mauritania and Mali, and extend this vision to other African countries. ‘We’re looking to find new training centres in both Europe and Africa and facilitate the participation of trained personnel in educational activities. We wish to create a community of learners who are united in a shared experience. We accept that progress is slow, but we keep moving forward step by step’, concluded Dr Bourlon.