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15.03.2006 Health

Third African Heart seminar opens in Kumasi

By GNA

Kumasi, March 15, GNA - Professor Charles Yankah, a Ghanaian Consultant Cardio thoracic and Vascular Surgeon with the German Heart Institute in Berlin, has stated that heart-related diseases were expected to be the number one killer after HIV/AIDS in Africa in the next 20 years.

He said with the continuing changes in lifestyles, hypertension, arteriosclerosis and diabetes would emerge as the causes of heart disease and a silent killer of adult Ghanaians and Africans. Prof Yankah was speaking at the opening of the Third African Heart Seminar in Kumasi on Wednesday.

The three-day seminar initiated by Prof Yankah in partnership with Dr Willie Leon of Christian Bernard Memorial Hospital in Cape Town, was to train African physicians in Echo cardiology, which uses modern ultrasound equipment to detect heart diseases.

The seminar, which is being attended by 50 doctors from Ghana, Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, Spain, Germany and South Africa, is also to unite African doctors and establish a networking among them and paramedical to prepare them to face challenges in identifying high quality and cost-effective strategies in preventing heart diseases. Prof Yankah said Africa's population would constantly grow to 1.2 billion by 2025 with about 220 million living in poverty, stressing that children from the poor families would suffer most and develop rheumatic heart diseases.

Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, Chief Executive of Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in a speech read on his behalf, noted that the absence or the low practice of preventive medicine and other corrective interventions have often led and would continue to lead to unavoidable deaths from cardiovascular diseases.

"Presentations over the last few days during the seminar have challenged us to re-focus and consider non-communicable diseases as an important part of our work in Africa as well", he said.

Dr Nsiah-Asare said KATH would continue to adopt strategies that would make it possible to provide world-class services to its numerous clients by investing in training and equipment in the years ahead. He said the hospital in its modest way of training, had sent two cardiologists, who are under training in Germany and Belgium and that a senior practitioner had just returned from the United States to help.

"Other residents have expressed the desire to specialise in this area. We will give them the needed support", he added.

The Chief Executive indicated that the hospital would continue to encourage and sponsor more residents in this area and upgrade its facilities including the Intensive Care Units, saying, "We believe that in the not too distant future, KATH can become a major centre of excellence in cardiology, heart surgery and organ transplant in Africa".

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