Going Global: Site Assessment in Peru

Last year to prepare for the launch of Heart to Heart’s Going Global campaign, we began U.S.-based research. Our findings paved the way for our first site visit to a different part of the globe in search of new opportunities to advance cardiac medicine. Today more than 85% of people on our planet still do not have access to heart surgery. Our Going Global site assessments are designed to identify opportunities for Heart to Heart to develop new cardiac teams to save children and adults suffering from heart disease in underserved areas of the world. Our first on-the-ground site assessment outside of Russia took us to the continent of South America – to Peru.

For nearly three centuries, Peru was under Spanish rule. In the early 1800s, Peruvians fought and won their independence. This young country now has one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America. And today Peru ranks among the world’s top producers of silver, copper, lead, and zinc. Its petroleum industry is one of the world’s oldest, and its fisheries are among the world’s richest. Peru is also known internationally for its cuisine.

In May 2015, Heart to Heart Founder & Medical Director, Dr. Nilas Young, and Executive Director, Josie Everett, traveled to Lima to discuss our program model with Peru’s cardiac leaders. The demand for heart surgery in Peru today greatly exceeds capacity. At the present time, open heart surgery is available on a very limited basis, and only in the capital city of Lima, home to around one-third of the nation’s population. This means that less than 33% of the children and adults in Peru have access to life-saving cardiac care.

CHD occurs in roughly 1% of all births worldwide: each year in Peru 6,000 children are born with heart disease, the vast majority of whom will join a waiting list for life-saving surgery. And an estimated 300,000 adults in Peru have valvular heart disease: the vast majority of them must also wait.

During the site assessment trip, Heart to Heart held a week-long series of meetings to assess the viability of a multiyear collaboration whose goal would be to develop the capacity to treat underserved heart patients throughout the country of Peru.

The series of meetings included site visits to three medical institutions and discussions with leaders from five different cardiac teams – each with varying capacity to treat patients with heart disease.

After extensive meetings were held to exchange information, thought leaders envisioned and shared scenarios about how to structure a multiyear collaboration that would significantly impact the treatment of heart disease throughout the whole country.

We are thrilled to have met such enthusiastic and dedicated cardiac specialists in Lima. We hope to include them in Heart to Heart’s network of colleagues in the near future.

As always, we thank you for your support – we could not do this without you.

Hannah Hunter