Guyana gets first open-heart surgeon


See below full release from the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation:

As Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) continues to make strides to provide competitive healthcare services for the people of Guyana, the institution has seen the need to not only invest in infrastructure upgrades and specialized equipment and consumables, but the training and development of its human resources to enable the free provision of complex, and often costly medical procedures for its patients.

In April 2023, the Global Heart Journal published research undertaken by the Guyana Program to Advance Cardiac Care (GPACC), citing that Guyana has one of the highest rates of cardiovascular mortality in South America with 291.9 deaths for every 100,000 people – 54% higher than the global average. In fact, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) cites ischemic heart disease as the leading cause of death in Guyana, accounting for 15% of the total deaths annually. With this reality in mind, the availability of the requisite expertise to treat a range of heart conditions is extremely important.

Through the provision of private-public partnerships, significant headway has been made to address the surgical needs of Guyana’s adult population but at a cost to patients with some support provided by the Government of Guyana. However, to ensure that the trajectory of Guyana’s healthcare infrastructure is positioned to address the country’s epidemiological profile, there is a need for permanence in the availability of adult open-heart surgery and management.

In 2020, Surgeon, Dr. Pradeep Ramkoomar, with support from the GPHC, commenced a three (3) year fellowship training in Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, Madras Medical Mission, Chennai India. Having successfully completed this fellowship, Dr. Ramkoomar is now the only adult open-heart surgeon in Guyana. His return to the GPHC in 2023 signifies tremendous headway in the provision of world class healthcare for the people of Guyana.

Dr. Ramkoomar’s training which included beating heart surgery and conventional on-pump bypass with exposure to robotics and minimally invasive cardiac surgery at the revered super specialty cardiovascular hospital in Chennai has positioned him to pioneer the establishment of a department of Adult Cardiac Surgery at the GPHC. This department will facilitate the routine provision of coronary artery bypass surgeries and heart valve replacements and repairs among other open-heart procedures for persons with coronary artery and valvular heart diseases. Additionally, the department will augment the GPHC’s current clinical and interventional arms of the Cardiovascular services with the provision of full-time surgical support.

At present, at least four (4) patients are identified weekly who require open-heart surgeries at the GPHC, in addition to a backlog of patients awaiting these procedures who may have otherwise had to travel out of the country and pay to access these life-saving interventions. With the establishment of the department of Adult Cardiac Surgery, the GPHC will have the capacity to provide elective and emergency coverage for services such as minimally invasive valve surgeries and transcatheter aortic and mitral valve replacements.

With continued support from GPHC’s administration, Dr. Pradeep Ramkoomar continues to advocate for the establishment of a sustainable and reliable model of adult cardiovascular care which mimics the more successful centres worldwide which operate independently, with clinical, interventional, and surgical arms under their purview.

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