Armed clashes between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) began this morning on the streets of the capital Khartoum.
At our Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery in Khartoum, Sudan, the hard work of hundreds of colleagues makes our daily, life-saving care possible. Patients from 32 countries, from Burundi to Zimbabwe, have been treated here.
We recently spoke with some of our colleagues about the facility and what they have achieved.
Working for EMERGENCY means believing in a different approach: that every patient belongs at the centre of excellent, dignified and free healthcare.
Built in 2007, the Salam Centre is the first hospital in the African Network of Medical Excellence. We offer patients free treatment with the best experts in the field, and patients from outside Khartoum have the possibility of staying in our guest house together with their relatives or other accompanying people, free of charge.
We promote the specific and technical training of local staff. Since 2018, we have been accredited by the specialisation board to receive Sudanese residents. This makes it possible to expose future specialists from the country to excellent medicine. The collaboration goes beyond the borders of Sudan: in 2022, we trained fellows from the Uganda Heart Institute.
In fact, over all these years we have trained a lot of local colleagues. Not just doctors, surgeons and cardiologists, but also technical and nursing staff. So we have a lot of engineers, anaesthesia nurses and technicians. And, over the past few months, we have been creating the first master’s degree for perfusionists in Africa, a programme I am very proud of.
I’ve worked in Salam Centre since 2014, since I graduated from university. It trained me very well, I’m very experienced now, and I help the people of my country and other neighbouring countries. That’s why I love my job.
Dr Franco Masini
Just last year, in 2022, we achieved a very important milestone: more than 10,000 open heart surgeries.
Our patients are young, with an average age of 22 or 23 years old. About 15-20% of them suffer from congenital heart diseases. The other 80% need heart valves replaced due to damage from rheumatic heart disease – we do about 1,000 operations a year on this pathology. In Western countries, it has a prevalence of 1%, but in Sub-Saharan African countries it is 15 times that.
At the moment, I am in charge of managing the intensive care unit at the Salam Centre, which has 15 beds.
The uniqueness of this project lies in offering a highly specialised type of surgery and care in countries that would not otherwise have the opportunity to receive it yet are in dire need because rheumatic heart disease, which in Western countries is essentially eradicated, is still a scourge in this region.
Our belief at EMERGENCY is that people should be treated in the same way wherever they are, regardless of their economic and social situation. It’s not fair that those who have fewer opportunities should suffer. If the need is heart surgery, then we have a duty to offer it, free of charge and of the highest possible quality.