Ghanaian Heart Surgeon establishes two simulation centres in Africa …for teaching heart surgery to learn complex procedures

A renowned Ghanaian Heart Surgeon based in Germany, Prof. Charles Yankah, has established two cardiovascular simulation training centres at the Blida University in Algiers for North Africa and Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital in Nairobi for East Africa to facilitate intercontinental regional skills training programme in cardiac surgery.

Prior to these initiatives, Prof. Yankah’s NGO, Global Heart Care-PASCaTS, organised in September and November 2019 in Accra, in collaboration with German Heart Centre Charite Berlin heart surgery simulation courses for heart surgeons from Angola, Ghana, Namibia, Nigeria and Uganda.

He envisioned the project to be developed into African regional programmes to enable competence and resilience in cardiac surgery in Africa. “Our concept is to Build, Operate and Transfer sustainable and resilient cardiac service,” he told the Ghanaian Times via email.

Professor Abdelmalek Bouzid, Head of Pediatric and Adult Cardiac Surgery of the University of Algiers told the Ghanaian Times also said “cardiovascular simulation skill training courses are indispensable in the curriculum of surgical training on the continent.”

Prof. Yankah, doubles as the President/Founder of Global Heart Care &Pan African Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery (PASCaTS) and co-founder of the German Heart Centre who are facilitating cardiac training programmes and networking among colleagues to empower young specialists on the continent to improve upon service delivery.

Prof. Yankah had signed in 2021 a development cooperation with the CEO of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in collaboration with Dr Doku, supervisor of cardiology training programme at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) to strengthen capacity building programmes to improve cardiology service delivery in Ghana.

It was implemented by sending eight cardiologists from Ghana to undertake further training in master class transesophageal echocardiography at the German Heart Center Charite Berlin, Germany.

Among his works, Prof. Yankah in 1994 led a team to perform double organ transplant of the heart and kidney and human heart valves (homografts).

In 2001 in partnership with Dr Willie Koen, initiated the only bridge to heart transplantation programme on the continent in South Africa at the Christian Barnard Memorial Hospital, Cape Town.

In 2017-18 Prof. Yankah and his heart team from Germany initiated a rheumatic heart disease (RHD) research programme at the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital (CCTH), Cape Coast.

It was in collaboration with CEO, Dr. Daniel Asare and two dedicated senior nurses, Mrs. Florence Offei, former Deputy Nursing Director and Mrs. Caroline Awurasie who screened over 5000 school children in Cape Coast Metro and Kibi Municipality using the smallest portable echocardiography machine after crush courses in echocardiography by Prof. Yankah at CCTH and at the German Heart Center Berlin, Germany.

The RHD research programme was followed by series of echocardiography courses at CCTH and KBTH for physicians from Brong Ahafo, Central, Eastern, GreaterAccra and Northern regions to support the cardiology training programme of Dr Doku at the KBTH when Professor Yankah realised the need for capacity building in cardiology with only one board certified paediatric cardiologist for 11 million children and 14 adult cardiologists for 19 million adults in the country.

The PASCaTS project led to the establishing of a national training centre for echocardiography at the CCTH which was sponsored by Edwards Lifesciences Foundation, USA.

In 2019-2020 Prof. Yankah led a multidisciplinary medical team of his NGO, African Cultural Institute to CCTH within the framework of hospital partnership programme of the German government (BMZ/GIZ) to strengthen the hospital partnership programme initiated with Dr Asare, former CEO.

His medical team continued advanced intermediate echocardiography courses, ICU and ICT courses at the CCTH in collaboration with the current CEO, Dr Ngyedu and the German Heart Centre Charite Berlin.

By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman

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