Heart of Soweto study launches
The Soweto Cardiovascular Research Unit (Socru) officially launched the Heart of Soweto/Unite for Health Initiative, at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto on September 8 2006.
Guests heard speeches from project leader Prof Karen Sliwa, researcher Prof Simon Stewart, and Adcock Ingram Managing Director Dr Jonathan Louw, who all spoke of the critical need for understanding and treating heart disease in Africa.
Sliwa also took visitors on a tour of the newly upgraded specialist heart failure clinic at the hospital and the screening site at the Bara Taxi Rank.
The Heart of Soweto Initiative was set up in response to a growing need for preventing and treating heart disease in bustling Soweto, a densely-populated urban area just south of Johannesburg, South Africa.
“In a typical clinic day, more than 100 people are seen in the outpatient clinic at the hospital for a heart-related condition,” Sliwa pointed out at the launch.
In collaboration with leading international experts from Australia and the United Kingdom, the Heart of Soweto Study has begun the important task of research to strive for a better understanding and monitoring of heart disease in the local population. The researchers aim to gather new and improved data, and in turn, develop better health-care services.
Each month, research nurses and doctors from the Heart of Soweto Study set up a “screening station” within the community and provide free health checks for common risk factors for heart disease and health-care advice or follow-ups, if required. “Fifty-five percent of those screened at our ‘Heart Awareness Days’ have been found to have at least one risk factor for developing heart disease,” explained Sliwa.
In addition to providing expert health care to those seeking treatment for heart-related conditions, the staff of the Cardiology Unit of the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital have established a unique clinical registry to describe each presenting case from the local population. The study team has already documented more than 3000 cases of heart disease – the largest data collection of its kind in Africa. 55% of those screened have had at least one risk factor for developing heart disease.
With the success of the initial phases of the Heart of Soweto Study now established, the study team is currently planning more community activities to monitor the emergence of heart disease in the community via larger, more comprehensive screening programmes and the creation of effective health-care prevention and management services in Soweto.