Our First Mission to Paraguay


Expanding the treatment of valvular disease in Latin America

Next week, beginning on April 3, a team of eleven cardiac specialists will travel as part of Heart to Heart’s first ever surgical-educational mission to Paraguay!

Located in the heart of South America, Paraguay is bordered by Bolivia, Argentina, and Brazil. The country of 7 million was liberated from Spanish rule just over 200 years ago, in 1811. With a population of 500,000, the nation’s capital Asuncion serves as the hub of healthcare for the whole country, and is home to the nation’s only medical school. Today Paraguay boasts a 94% literacy rate and a young, promising population.

By world standards, Paraguay is a poor country. Despite a recent reduction in poverty, which dropped from 32% in 2011 to 22% in 2015, Paraguay is still one of the poorest countries in Latin America. It ranks fourth in extreme poverty, after Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua, according to a 2016 ECLAC report. Unfortunately, there is a high incidence of rheumatic heart disease (RHD)resulting from the high poverty rate and limited medical access. RHD is endemic among Paraguayan children and adults, as it is in most of the developing world. Ultimately, patients with RHD require a surgical or catheter-based intervention to treat life-threatening degenerative heart valve disease.

The high incidence of RHD in Paraguay is Heart to Heart’s impetus for traveling there: our volunteers will teach and to provide clinical skills training in the areas of diagnostics, screening, and treatment of valvular disease among adults.

Heart to Heart is dedicated to expanding heart care to children and adults in areas of need worldwide. But we can only do so with support from donors like you. Please consider donating today to help us save the lives of people suffering from heart disease and to provide clinical skills training in Paraguay!

Hannah Hunterparaguay, 2019