30 Ethiopian Children to Benefit from Free Lifesaving Heart Operations

By Staff Reporter

Tamar-Shapira-SACHNovember 20, 2019 (Ezega.com) -- This week, more than 30 Ethiopian children will benefit from free lifesaving heart operations and cardiac catheterization from Save a Child’s Heart (SACH), an Israeli-based international non-profit organization, with the mission of improving the quality of pediatric cardiac care throughout the world.
 
The week-long medical camp is led by Ethiopian surgeon Yayehyirad (Yayu) Mekonnen Ejigu, trained at SACH’s Wolfson Medical Center in Israel.
 
SACH’s medical team arrived in Ethiopia this week to offer the life-saving cardiac care as part of their in-country mission to mark its 25th anniversary of the partnership in Ethiopia. The Israeli doctors will work with their Ethiopian counterparts at the Children’s Heart Fund of Ethiopia Cardiac Center.
 
“SACH seeks to mend the hearts of children around the world without regard to race, religion, gender or nationality,” said Simon Fisher, Executive Director of Save a Child’s Heart.
 
“With Mission Ethiopia, we have put in place the critically needed resources to provide high-level pediatric cardiac care, including a state-of-the-art operating room, cath lab, and cardiology clinic along with an amazing pediatric ICU team working together to perform medical procedures and diagnosis on children in need,” he added.
 
Since their arrival in Addis Ababa, the team has been working round the clock, screening and diagnosing children, and following up on past cases. On Sunday, November 17, nearly 40 children were screened at the Ethiopian capital’s cardiology clinic.

The open-heart surgeries and catheterizations being carried out daily are free and made possible through a partnership between Israel’s Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) and the Children’s Heart Fund of Ethiopia. Global healthcare company, Abbott, has partnered with SACH on the Little Heroes campaign to treat defects in the hearts of babies and children, providing funding and medical devices to aid in procedures during this mission.

The charity plan to hold an international press conference on Wednesday, November 20, 2019, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

To know more about Save a child’s Heart activities Ezega News sat with Tamar Shapira, Deputy Executive Director and Director of International & Public Relations for an exclusive interview.

Ezega News: Ms. Tamar Shapira Thank you for interviewing with us. Can you please tell me about Save a Child's Heart (SACH)?

Tamar Shapira: Save a Child’s Heart is an Israeli-based international non-profit organization, with special consultative status granted by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (ECOSOC) and recent recipient of the 2018 prestigious United Nations Population Award. Save a Child’s Heart was founded in 1995 at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, Israel, with the mission of improving the quality of pediatric cardiac care for children in developing countries and creating centers of competence in these countries.

Save a Child’s Heart’s goal is to improve the health and welfare of all children, regardless of the child’s nationality, religion, color, gender or financial situation.

Ezega News: In your press release, you highlighted your Organization’s effort to offer the life-saving cardiac care as part of SACH’s in-country mission to mark its 25th anniversary of the partnership in Ethiopia, How far have you worked in Ethiopia to deliver these objectives? What have been the highlights of SACH work been so far in Ethiopia?

Tamar Shapira: This week, more than 30 Ethiopian children will benefit from free lifesaving heart operations and cardiac catheterization during the Save a Child’s Heart mission in the Children Cardiac Center in Addis Ababa.

The week-long medical camp is led by Ethiopian surgeon Yayehyirad (Yayu) Mekonnen Ejigu, trained at SACH’s Wolfson Medical Center in Israel.

SACH’s medical team arrived in Ethiopia this week to offer life-saving cardiac care as part of their in-country mission to mark its 25th anniversary of the partnership in Ethiopia. The Israeli doctors will work with their Ethiopian counterparts at the Children’s Heart Fund of Ethiopia Cardiac Center.

Since their arrival in Addis Ababa, the team has been working around the clock, screening and diagnosing children, and following up on past cases.

The open-heart surgeries and catheterizations being carried out daily are free and made possible through a partnership between Israel’s Save a Child’s Heart and the Children’s Heart Fund of Ethiopia. Global healthcare company, Abbott, has partnered with SACH on the Little Heroes campaign to treat defects in the hearts of babies and children, providing funding and medical devices to aid in procedures during this mission.

Ezega News: Poverty and lack of social safety net prevent many Ethiopians from getting the care they need. What is your opinion on this and the way forward taking in mind Israeli’s Experience to combat the problem?

Tamar Shapira: Save a Child’s Heart trains medical personnel from partner sites from around the world in all facets of pediatric cardiac care. Over 120 medical team members from all over the world have been trained by Save a Child's Heart at Wolfson Medical Center in Israel In.

Since 1996, SACH has trained a pediatric cardiac surgeon, two anesthesiologists, four pediatric cardiologists and two intensivists, all of whom are now practising locally in Ethiopia. Currently, a pediatric cardiac surgeon and an anesthesiologist are training at Wolfson. Training team members and creating centers of competence in partner countries is the key to move forward and eventually save as many lives as possible.

In 2012, Dr. Yayehyirad (Yayu) Mekonnen Ejigu began a five-year pediatric cardiac surgery training program at Wolfson. Dr. Yayu completed his training in 2017 and then completed an 18 months fellowship at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia.  

Ezega News: Are there any collaborations made with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health to expand your service as well as give trainings for future Doctors in Ethiopia?

Tamar Shapira: We are working in close cooperation with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health and in general with other ministries and authorities. We hope these efforts will bear fruit in the future.

Ezega News: While marking your 25th anniversary, what do you hope to achieve in the coming years?

Tamar Shapira: We plan to continue with our lifesaving activity, saving children’s lives in Israel, training medical team members from partner sites and traveling on medical missions to work together with our partners around the world. We plan to screen and diagnose more children, to train medical team members and to treat children on the ground with our partners.

Ezega News: Ms. Shapira, thank you for interviewing with us.

Tamar Shapira: Thank you!

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