Brigitte Macron, Maria Elena Cuomo, Professor Alain Deloche and Marème Sall at the CCPC, Dakar, 2 February 2018
The Centre Cardio-Pédiatrique Cuomo (CCPC) was officially declared open on February 2, 2018 in Dakar. The ceremony, organised by the CHNU Fann, in which the CCPC is located, was attended by the First Lady of Senegal, Marème Faye Sall, her Guest of Honour, Brigitte Macron and Maria Elena Cuomo, President of the Cuomo Foundation. The outcome of a years-long international multipartite collaboration, the Cuomo Centre was entirely built and equipped with the financial support of the Foundation. Numerous protagonists of the project were present at the event which saw a thousand participants come to greet the first cardio-paediatric health facility to emerge from the whole region of West Africa. Among them were Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr, the Senegalese Minister of Health and Social Actions, Professor Alain Deloche, founder of La Chaîne de l’Espoir, Dr. Cheikh Tacko Diop, Director of CHNU Fann and Professor Mouhamadou N'Diaye, CHNU’s Head of Cardiovascular Department.
Already functional since January 2017, the Centre, upheld by the Senegalese government, has already under its belt more than 150 successful heart operations. Once fully functional, particularly in the department of human resources, the facility shall practice 500 heart operations a year. Highly skilled personnel, necessary for the development of the CCPC, is trained through sessions organised within the centre and sometimes abroad. This program, launched in 2014, received a new momentum during the inauguration week with the "Club Mitral » : a special seminar led by Professor Gilles Dreyfus, the Medical Director of the Cardio-Thoracic Center, Monaco. This training session, held from January 30 to February 2, was organised around 6 operations and focused on surgical techniques used to repair the mitral valve. While some medical staff attended the demonstration in the operation theatres, the others followed the action from the teaching room where the operations were broadcast live.
Thirteen doctors and surgeons are now employed in the Cuomo Center. They are supported by 44 medical and paramedical personnel.
Challenges for the future
Among the future challenges of the centre remains the cost of the operations carried out on disadvantaged children. With this in mind, a Solidarity Fund is being set up at the initiative of the Monitoring Committee of the facility, attended by the international partners of the project.
In addition to the health care provided by the Cuomo Center, it is also necessary to set up a screening network for children with acquired heart diseases throughout the sub-region. As Professor M'Bara Diop of the CHNU pointed out at the Press Conference, the gap between the number of open-heart operations in Africa and those recorded in high-income countries remains revealing. The medical community, present at this conference, agreed that the need to practice so many open-heart operations in Africa remained an anomaly in the world of the 21st century with its undeniable progress in the medical field. In contexts that favour better access to health care, in utero monitoring of foetuses and the usage of antibiotics prevent these diseases to the point that they can virtually be eradicated.
Some children among the 150 operated at the Center who come to welcome the guests of honour was a moving scene of the event. They greeted the invitees with tick bouquets of flowers and generous smiles that they had now recovered thanks to this collective venture. They can now go back to school again, as Maria Maria Cuomo delightedly reminded in front of the journalists who came to cover this event.