By Justice Lee Adoboe
ACCRA, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- China's support for the modernization and strengthening of Ghana's health sector and health service delivery continues to grow over the years.
One of the areas which have benefited from this support is the intervention for heart diseases, where besides the regular visits by Chinese specialists to carry out critical interventions for Ghanaian patients free of charge, the Chinese government is also supporting Ghanaian training a cadre of Ghanaian heart specialists in advanced forms of interventions for patients with heart diseases.
A four-person Chinese medical team that visited Ghana earlier this month concluded its mission with successful major heart interventions for some patients, including a three-year-old girl with the congenital condition at the Greater Accra Regional Hospital.
With support from their Ghanaian colleagues, the Chinese medical team also carried out other interventions, including implantation of Cardiac pace-maker and the opening of heart arteries for patients at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, 280 kilometers north of the capital.
Speaking in an interview with Xinhua, Xie Yumei, a member of the team from the Guangdong Provincial People's Hospital lauded the success of the intervention carried out on the three-year-old without open-heart surgery.
"With these interventions, we do not need to cut the patient's chest and heart which leaves a permanent scar there, but we access the heart through arteries in the arms, legs, or other parts of the body," said Xie.
"This is real advancement in cardiovascular health, which is pretty safe and more affordable than open-heart surgery," Francis Agyekum, the first Ghanaian heart specialist to train under the current program in Guangdong, told Xinhua.
The Chinese government has since 2013 been supporting Ghana by training a cadre corps of heart specialists at the Guangdong Cardiovascular Institute at the Guangdong Provincial People's Hospital in these advanced methods of heart interventions.
Through this program, the number of trained heart professionals in Ghana has increased to 13, from the previous number of eight.
"There has been a growing rate of heart-related diseases, but, before this time, these new forms of interventions were not available in Ghana. This training, therefore, started just in time to serve that category of patients who need that intervention," Aba Forson, who also received training under the program, in Guangdong said.
The leader of the Chinese medical team, Lin Chunying, said the current process would help to revolutionize the treatment of heart-related diseases in Ghana.
"In the future, we will continue to train them, and after six months, or a year, depending on the course, they return to Ghana, and can perform the operations themselves," She said.
It is a small step for the Chinese cardiologists, but a giant leap for Ghana. The health system in Ghana is developing, but for cardiology, authorities need to improve the interventions, said YuanHongling, a member of the Chinese medical team.
As their number keeps growing, thanks to the Chinese government support, the Ghanaian heart specialists have launched a new professional body known as the Ghana Cardiology Society, through which they expect to collaborate more for the benefit of Ghanaian heart patients.
The health service administrator of the hospital Simon Awok-Badek expressed gratitude to the Chinese medical team for the great job they have been doing in terms of interventions and capacity building for the health sector in Ghana.
"We are looking forward to more collaboration with them, in terms of training, logistics and service delivery as far as interventions for heart diseases in Ghana are concerned," the administrator said.