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Northern sector to get cardio centre

BY: Arku Jasmine

Minister of Health, Ms Sherry AryeeteyA new cardiothoracic centre is to be established to serve the needs of people in the northern sector of the country, the Minister of Health, Ms Sherry Aryeetey, has announced.
Plans for the project are now being worked out by the ministry.

Ms Aryeetey, who made this known to the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, said the project was intended to bring cardiothoracic services closer to the people.

“There is only one heart centre in the country now; it means people from the nine other regions always have to come to Accra for medical attention related to the heart,” she said.

She, however, did not give the specific time when the project would take off, its estimated cost and where it would be located.

The establishment of the new centre will bring to two cardiovascular centres to be built in the country. The other centre is expected to be built at the University of Ghana Teaching Hospital being established in Accra.

Currently, the only heart centre — the National Cardiothoracic Centre — serves the entire country and the West African sub-region.

The minister spoke to the Daily Graphic on the sidelines of the first annual scientific conference of the African Association of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons (AATCS), in Accra.

The two-day conference provides a platform for cardiothoracic professionals, including surgeons, anesthetists, cardiologists, pulmonologists and theatre and intensive care nurses, to interact, share knowledge and create collaborations among members of the association.

Cardiothoracic surgery is a broad term encompassing almost all surgical operations that takes place in the chest.

Speaking at the opening of the conference, Ms Aryeetey challenged the association to collaborate with governments on the continent to find a cost-effective solution to cardiothoracic problems.

Cardiovascular diseases are the world’s most deadly killers, claiming 17.3 million lives per year. This staggering figure represents 30 per cent of all global deaths per year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In Ghana, some 400 people undergo heart surgery annually. Closely linked to heart problems is hypertension.

Hypertension also accounts for 8.9 per cent of institutional deaths in Ghana and is ranked the third most common newly diagnosed outpatients’ disease among adults in the country.

In that regard, the health minister noted that cardiovascular diseases had the potential of tipping households into poverty.

Ms Aryeetey encouraged the experts to discuss how countries across the African continent could retain professionals and attract technology to enhance service delivery in the sector.

Confronted with the challenge of keeping hearts alive and pumping, the Director of the National Cardiothoracic Centre (NCC), Dr Lawrence A. Sereboe, said the most crucial tool to use to deal with the mountain of challenges heart surgeons face was commitment.

By Seth J. Bokpe/Daily Graphic/Ghana