A surgical strike in capacity building for the future of children's cardiology within East-Africa

Jan Husar
Heart for Kenya
Published in
8 min readJul 11, 2022

A boy in school on the outskirts of the Kisumu region, western Kenya in 2017. Due to a heart defect that did not allow him to walk for longer than 10 minutes, his daily routine would take him 5 miles both ways just to reach school. This kid had no means of getting an education. He simply couldn’t reach it because of an inborn heart defect. In the picture, his condition has been fixed on our program performed in 2016. He visits school now.

It is unknown how many children are born in sub-Saharan Africa with cardiovascular defects every year. The estimate is over 3500. The latest study tackling this subject medically estimates similar number done in 2012 just in the Kenyan republic alone. Statistically by the numbers reported from healthcare providers worldwide, that number could be true. It is estimated that around 1% of the newborn population comes with an inborn defect requiring some sort of cardiology assistance. If we consider that number again and roughly estimate that around 10% of the children would not survive without complicated treatments. Counting that the defect was diagnosed, or observed, the child has a slight chance for recovery.

The situation worsens for any possible positive outcomes, as there is not enough resources and skill at the level of remote regions, whether providing basic general practice medicine. It is certain, that the information and data collected by the project ‘Heart for Kenya’ shines a light on the journey of such an unfortunate child. Where it happened and why.

It is also to mention at this point that most cases of children are coming from low-income, poor economies, and less educated backgrounds. Meaning several things at once;

— 1. Access to education

— 2. The families, coming from levels of poverty

— 3. The families who have the means

— 4. The aging condition of the defect left un-checked

— 5. The skills and knowledge of local healthcare professionals

Kenyan ICU manager (left) and an ICU Nurse are working together with a Slovak ICU nurse in the Children Cardiology Center (DKC NUSCH) during a month-long training to boost skills for Kenyan staff. Summer 2016 in Bratislava Slovakia was the first of its kind, four-position were put together in real-world scenarios.
  • 1, access to information regarding medicine and diseases is lacking even in regions with larger populations and developed medical services, such as the south-western part of Kenya called Kisii. It is rare to obtain a testimony of violence and aggression from family or the community against the sick child or their mother, as this holds a stigma and it is shameful for them. Especially when they learned, even at that time of the violent perpetrators trying to harm, or cast…

Jan Husar
Heart for Kenya

Documentary producer as seen on Insider CGTN Novinky.cz co-founder EarthCause.org