In Guatemala (and elsewhere in the world) around one percent of all children born will have a congenital heart defect. In the United States, or other places with lots of medical resources, these heart defects are typically picked up right away at birth or shortly thereafter, due to regular pediatric visits. However, in a country like Guatemala, where there is very minimal pediatric care and where most babies are born at home, severe heart defects usually result in unexplained infant deaths, and less severe defects remain undetected for months to years until they start to cause symptoms.
Wuqu’ Kawoq | Maya Health Alliance has been working hard, in all of its community based programs, to improve the detection of pediatric heart disease. This project has been aided greatly by a strong partnership with UNICAR (http://www.unicargt.org/
historiap.html), one of the best pediatric cardiac surgery centers in Latin America, to provide surgery to needy children.
However, there are several major logistical challenges to detection and treatments. One of the greatest of these is the difficulty of providing rapid diagnostics to detect major heart defects in rural settings, where the nearest ultrasound machine (the technology most commonly used to detect these conditions) is often several hours away down a bumpy road.
Thankfully, however, we have exciting news. Recently we applied to and received support from Sonosite (through their charitable Soundcaring program (http://www.soundcaring.com/)) for a high quality portable ultrasound machine, with heart imaging capacity! This device will revolutionize our detection and treatment of heart disease in children, by allowing us to rapidly provide immediate initial diagnostics in rural settings, prior to referring cases for definitive treatment.
Thanks so much to Sonosite and the Soundcaring program for their support!