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PRESS RELEASE: Project HOPE, Shanghai Children’s Medical Center and NMCH Form A New Partnership

Project HOPE today announced a first of its kind partnership to improve care for children with heart disease in Africa in collaboration with the Shanghai Children’s Medical Center (SCMC) in China, and the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital (NMCH) in Johannesburg, South Africa. This is the first time that a Chinese hospital has worked with an African country to contribute to the development of its paediatric cardiac program.

NMCH is a tertiary specialist and quaternary referral facility and the second dedicated paediatric hospital in South Africa serving children in the country as well as the southern Africa region. The hospital admitted its first patients in June 2017.

Project Hope is a Virginia-based global health and humanitarian relief organization and says the partnership will save the lives of children by partnering with a Centre of Excellence at NMCH and sharing knowledge, skills and best practices.

Dr Tom Kenyon, CEO and Chief Medical Officer at Project HOPE says the organization is thrilled to be involved in this important initiative and to contribute to skills development in the country. “We are especially delighted that the superb Chinese surgeons from SCMC who will be supporting the surgical team at NMCH, were once trained by HOPE years ago.”

The program is a strategic and collaborative response to treating congenital heart disease (CHD), the most common congenital birth defect worldwide. Every year, 4 500 children in South Africa are in need of surgery but only 38 percent receive any intervention.  If left untreated, CHD can have devastating effects on children and their families, and place a substantial burden on the health system.

Project HOPE has helped establish children’s hospitals in China, Iraq and Poland and supported NMCH during its conceptual phase.  Since opening, NMCH has treated over 2000 children in need of specialised care including cardiothoracic surgeries which it began to offer in May.

Dr Mandisa Maholwana, CEO of NMCH said that training forms an essential part of the hospital’s mission to capacitate its clinical staff and continue to offer quality patient care. “I visited SCMC earlier this year and was extremely impressed by their expertise in cardiac surgery for children. We look forward to this partnership and the great impact it will have in setting this facility as a leader in critical care for children.,”

Jointly founded by the Shanghai government and Project HOPE, SCMC, which is affiliated to Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, is a tertiary-A comprehensive paediatric hospital providing clinical services, research and education. SCMC is renowned throughout China for its excellence in paediatric cardiac surgery.

The first delegation of four medical professionals from SCMC visiting NMCH this week include the President and CEO of SCMC, Jiang Zhongyi; two surgeons specialised in cardiac surgery and care for children, and an international program manager who has played a key role in collaborations between SCMC and other hospitals around the globe. Says Zhongyi, “For 20 years, Project HOPE has helped us to get where we are as SCMC and now we look forward to passing on our expertise to NMCH.”

With support from Project HOPE and international experts over the past 20 years, more than 200 cardiothoracic surgery teams have completed their clinical training at SCMC.

“Today, the Cardiac Centre at SCMC is a clinical, education and research centre as well as the national top-ranking centre for paediatric congenital heart disease diagnosis and treatment offered to over 3,700 children annually.  I am hopeful that the expertise that NMCH will gain from SCMC will start paving the way for many lifesaving surgeries at NMCH and inspire its medical personnel beyond measure,” said Kenyon.

Download the press release here.