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Posted on Friday, 27 May 2016 21:29


Alastair White, Advocacy Assistant at the World Heart Federation, delivers the WHF Agenda Item 13.3 statement, focusing on the link between ensuring women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health and preventing and treating rheumatic heart disease (RHD).

World Heart Federation Statement: Agenda Item 13.3 – operational plan to take forward the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health
RHD is a preventable, treatable form of cardiovascular disease that affects over 32 million people around the world and claims 275,000 lives annually. Although virtually eliminated in Europe and North America, the disease remains common in Africa, the Middle East, Central and South Asia, the South Pacific, and in impoverished pockets of developed nations.

The WHF chose to focus its statement on RHD as this disease disproportionately affects women, children and adolescents: RHD is the most commonly acquired heart disease in young people under the age of 25. It also has severe implications for young women and maternal health.

In the statement the WHF made three recommendations to be considered when countries implement the Global Strategy:

  1.      Monitor maternal, child and adolescent health outcomes using national registers, which have long improved health outcomes for women, children and adolescents living with RHD
  2.      Implement selected interventions from the TIPS Framework, a toolkit for implementing RHD control programmes, in basic universal health coverage packages
  3.      Orient universal health coverage priorities towards inclusivity and financial protection to ensure care for every woman, child and adolescent

In 2015, the World Heart Federation co-founded a global movement, RHD Action, to tackle the global burden of rheumatic heart disease: find out more here.

Side event: GCM/NCD Breakfast Meeting at the International Committee of the Red Cross
The World Heart Federation advocacy team also attended a side event hosted by the Global Coordinating Mechanism on Non-communicable Diseases (GCM/NCD), which was held in the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) building in Geneva.

The GCM coordinates the activities of civil society and UN organizations that are working to reduce the global burden of NCDs. Led by Member States, it carries out this work through organizing working groups – which produce reports on topics ranging from health education to financing – hosting webinars and discussion forums, and carrying out country studies.

In addition to providing an opportunity for the GCM to update participants on its upcoming activities, GCM staff at the event invited participants to consider what would constitute success for the GCM in several years’ time, and how it could better engage with both civil society and also the general public.


Posted on Thursday, 26 May 2016 19:47


World Heart Federation Side Event: Tackling CVD through Primary Health Care
The World Heart Federation was delighted to host this stimulating side event, attended by a wide variety of NGOs, private sector organizations, UN Bodies and country representatives. The event was divided into two panel discussions. The first considered the challenges of meeting patients’ needs in limited-resource settings, while the second was tasked with finding solutions by tackling CVD through primary health care.


The event was chaired by World Heart Federation President Dr Salim Yusuf, who observed that many gaps in health care delivery still remain: he invited the audience to consider what could be done to narrow these gaps in health care delivery, and to better understand the barriers preventing access to care, and implement solutions.


Panel 1: Meeting patients’ needs in limited-resource settings
The first panel was comprised of two guest speakers and moderated by Dr Kathryn Taubert, Vice President (Global Strategies) of the American Heart Association.

Professor Bongani Mayosi, President of the Pan-African Society of Cardiology (PASCAR), noted that many low- and middle-income countries are undergoing a rapid socio-economic transition, which has been accompanied by a rising burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Drawing on the example of South Africa, he noted that this rise is occurring in many countries against a background of chronic infections such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB). This has led to multi-morbidities in many people, for example patients who were living with both HIV and hypertension. Professor Mayosi emphasized several challenges in particular, bearing in mind both the patient and health care provider perspectives, and the need to reform health systems. Nevertheless he expressed optimism about these challenges being met, declaring: "we know it can be done, we know the world can do it".

Professor Mayosi was followed by Nick Hartshorne-Evans, Founder and CEO of Pumping Marvellous Foundation. Mr Hartshorne-Evans explored different aspects of the journey undergone by those diagnosed with heart failure: the fear and apprehension on being diagnosed, their desire for a ‘quick fix’ and their need to understand exactly how their lives will be affected. He emphasiszd the responsibility of health workers to engage and empathize with patients and to inspire confidence in their own ability to manage their self-care.


Panel 2: Finding solutions by tackling CVD through Primary Health Care
The second panel – moderated by Professor Gerald Yonga from the East Africa NCD Alliance – aimed to find solutions to improve CVD prevention and treatment at the primary health care level. 

There was broad consensus among the panellists that the way health systems are presently organized – with a heavy reliance on doctors – is unsustainable. Ed Harding, Director of the Heart Failure Partnership at the Heart Failure Policy Network, declared that increasing the involvement of specialized, non-physician health workers (NPHWs) was an "essential step".

This view was supported by the Head of the NCD Division in the Kenyan Ministry of Health, Dr Joseph K. Mwangi, who indicated that non-physician health workers were better placed to empathize with patients than doctors, as they could spend significantly more time with them.

Coordinator in the NCD department in WHO, Dr Cherian Varghese, said more needed to be done at primary health care level to anticipate the number of patients coming to clinics and to understand their needs. He drew attention to HIV and ante-natal clinics as examples to be emulated, where health systems had become more organized and effective. However he also reminded the audience of the importance of gaining patients’ trust, saying this would be achieved through ensuring that when patients did travel to clinics, the medicines and care they needed was available.

Discussions did not focus solely on the strengthening and restructuring of health systems, however: Carlos Garcia of Novartis observed that from the many pilot interventions they had supported that the "persistent will" of those involved was a key difference in ensuring a programme’s success. Dr Dorairaj Prabhakaran, Executive Director of the Centre for Chronic Disease Control, India, invited the audience to look beyond the patient-health worker paradigm, arguing that issues concerning nutrition and the marketing of certain foods also needed to be addressed.


Concluding remarks
Offered the chance to provide their final reflections on the event, the panellists identified multi-stakeholder partnerships, increased political will, a simplified and restructured health system at the primary health care level and an increased role for non-physician health workers as the essential steps for tackling CVD through primary health care.

Dr Salim Yusuf concluded the event by echoing these remarks, declaring: "I hope we can reimagine what primary health care is going to be".




Posted on Wednesday, 25 May 2016 17:20


Professor Gerald Yonga makes a statement on Health in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

The second day at the World Health Assembly focused in particular on one issue: the position of health in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The World Heart Federation and NCD Alliance submitted a joint statement on this agenda item, and the WHF attended a technical briefing on the topic, held in the Palais des Nations.


WHF and NCD Alliance Statement on Health in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
The statement, which was discussed in both morning and afternoon sessions, was delivered by Professor Gerald Yonga, Head of the NCD Research Policy Unit at Aga Khan University and member of the Kenya Cardiac Society.

The statement called for a proactive approach to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, which were agreed at the UN General Assembly in New York last year. It also emphasized that "ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing for all at all ages requires concerted action to address NCDs".

The statement made several recommendations, including:

  • The development of a review framework to ensure all are held accountable for delivering the 2030 Agenda
  • Increased country financing to achieve the SDGs
  • Meaningful engagement of civil society in implementing the 2030 Agenda

Technical Briefing: Health in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Intersectoral Action
The World Heart Federation also attended a technical briefing on Health in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which took place at lunchtime in the Palais des Nations. Discussions focused on the need to view health within the context of all of the Sustainable Development Goals and to establish links with other sectors, such as education, energy and social protection.

Speakers included WHO Director General Dr Margaret Chan, Assistant Director General for Health Systems and Innovation Marie-Paule Kieny, Ministry of Health representatives from China, Chile and Thailand, and Sunita Narain, an environmental activist from the Centre for Science and Environment.

Margaret Chan praised the packed room, saying it was testament to the importance given to the Agenda by countries and civil society. Dr Chan also emphasized the need for different sectors to talk to each other and the importance of taking action on behalf of young people who would, she warned, "take the flak" if the 2030 Agenda is not implemented.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Health for Thailand, Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, identified NCDs as a major threat to development. He called for action on tobacco, alcohol, fast food and sugar-sweetened beverages, and said a balance between soft power and legal action was the best way to achieve meaningful results.


Side event: Implementation of successful, cost-effective, evidence-based NCD interventions – how the United Nations Inter-agency Taskforce (UNIATF) can help countries accelerate the prevention and control of NCDs by 2030
The World Heart Federation was also delighted to attend a side event organized by the Russian Federation on the implementation of successful, cost-effective NCD interventions.

In his introduction, Nick Banatvula, a Senior Advisor at the WHO, explained that the UN Inter-Agency Taskforce concentrated on how the UN could work at country level. For these programmes, UN agencies, such as UNICEF, UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) and the World Bank, undertake missions to countries and help to identify the support they need in order to reduce their burden of NCDs. 

Ministers of Health from countries as diverse as Oman, Barbados, Kenya and Peru discussed the successes of the joint programmes so far, as well as their needs for further assistance from UN agencies.

Minister of Health for Barbados, Dr John Boyce, identified stroke, hypertension and ischaemic heart disease as priorities for cost-effective interventions, while Dr Rajitha Senarathne, Minister of Health for Sri Lanka, stated that screening for diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol would be provided free of charge.




Posted on Wednesday, 25 May 2016 10:57


Margaret Chan, Director General of the WHO, gives an emotive address on the first day of the World Health Assembly.

While Dr Chan praised the work achieved during the Millennium Development Goal era, she stated that the world was facing "three slow-motion disasters":  a changing environment; antimicrobial resistance; and the rise of chronic NCDs - the leading killers worldwide.

Dr Chan made further reference to NCDs in her speech, specifically mentioning:

  • Air pollution is a trans-boundary hazard that affects the global atmosphere and transcends national boundaries
  • The marketing of unhealthy food and beverages, especially to children, is now a global phenomenon
  • Highly processed foods that are cheap, convenient and tasty gain a bigger market share than fruit and vegetables
  • No country can tackle NCDs without strong policy on tobacco control guided by the FCTC

Side event: Insecurity & Social Determinants of Health
The World Heart Federation was pleased to represent the NCD community at this event hosted by the World Medical Association. The meeting was chaired by Sir Michael Marmot, a long-standing leader in health inequalities who has also conducted groundbreaking studies in heart disease and stroke.

The event explored examples of health inequalities and their impact on national health systems, with a special focus on the health workforce, using national examples from Colombia.

This complements the theme of the forthcoming WHF side event on 25 May - 'Tackling CVD through Primary Health Care' - which will explore how, by mobilizing the primary health care workforce, we can tackle the injustice of heart disease.

Side event: Accelerating National Progress on Tackling Child Obesity and Child Undernutrition in a Sustainable Way
This event saw Ministers of Health from around the world announce SMART commitments to reduce the global ‘double burden’ of childhood obesity and undernutrition.

Chaired by Professor Corinna Hawkes of the Centre for Food Policy at City University London, Ministers of Health and representatives from governments as diverse as Canada, Bangladesh, Finland and Namibia, declared policies and initiatives to tackle this issue.

Director General Margaret Chan condemned the continuing existence of undernutrition, stating: "the world produces enough food for everybody".

The audience was also treated to an address by British campaigner and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who has recently launched a Food Revolution which aims for a world where every child has access to fresh and nutritious food.

Side event: NCD Alliance – Making the Case for NCDs: Sustainable Investments, Smarter Financing
The World Heart Federation attended a meeting organized by the NCD Alliance, of which the WHF is a founding member. During the meeting, five panellists discussed topics such as where the money financing NCDs currently comes from, and why a human-rights-based argument for providing health care for NCDs was not sufficient.

The panel was comprised of representatives from the Philippines and Thailand, Rachel Nugent of RTI International, Suresh Kumar of Sanofi and Dr Matshidiso Moeti, Regional Director for the AFRO region of WHO.

The moderator, Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of the Lancet, observed at the end of the event that discussions had evolved from technical issues to those focusing on youth, advocacy, patient champions and making a strong political case for increasing funding for NCDs.

Researchers find “simple” methods to prevent heart attacks and stroke worldwide

Posted on Tuesday, 5 April 2016 18:56

Three simple solutions to prevent heart attacks and stroke worldwide have been proven effective by an international team led by Hamilton medical researchers.

The research team from the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences studied more than 12,000 patients from 21 countries, including South Africa, to evaluate drugs that can prevent the cardiovascular diseases (CVD). These diseases lead to 18 million deaths and about 50 million heart attacks and strokes globally every year.

“These are incredibly important findings with potential for significant global impact,” said Dr. Salim Yusuf, principal investigator. “If just 10 percent of the world’s population at intermediate risk of CVD are impacted, we’re talking about 20 to 30 million people who could be helped by these drugs.”

The three methods examined included two established forms of therapy that of statins, a group of cholesterol-lowering drugs, and antihypertensives, a class of drugs used to treat high blood pressure. In addition, a combination of statins and antihypertensives was reviewed.

Three studies on the methods were published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. Under the name of HOPE-3, or Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation-3, the studies involved 228 centres looking at the effects of the three treatments in people at intermediate risk of, but without, clinical heart disease.

In South Africa the study was led by the National leader, Prof. Karen Sliwa, Director Hatter Institute of Cardiovascular Research, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa and Saheart president.

Statins proved to significantly and safely reduce CVD events by 25 per cent in patients at intermediate risk without CVD. Antihypertensives did not reduce major CVD events overall in the population studied, but did reduce such events in the group of people with hypertension, but not in those without hypertension. When combined, statins and antihypertensives reduced CVD events by 30 per cent—with a 40% benefit in those with hypertension, suggesting that patients with hypertension should not only lower their BP but also consider taking a statin.

The HOPE-3 research reports were led by Yusuf and Dr. Eva Lonn, both professors of medicine of McMaster’s Michael G. De Groote School of Medicine, and Jackie Bosch, an associate professor of the university’s School of Rehabilitation Science.

“The HOPE-3 trial brings clarity in the management of blood pressure and cholesterol, two of the most common cardiovascular risk factors,” said Lonn. “Primary prevention can be greatly simplified and made available to most intermediate-risk people worldwide.”

Bosch added: “Treatment with a statin was remarkably safe and beneficial in our study, regardless of cholesterol or blood pressure levels, age, gender or ethnicity. We are incredibly encouraged by the study’s results.”

‘”The Hope-3 trail is highly  important for South Africa as there has recently been  a substantial public debate about the long-term safety of statin treatment – this debate can now be put to rest as patients received treatment with statins over a period of up to 10 years’” said Prof. Karen Sliwa. “Stroke places a major burden of disease in South Africa- primary prevention using a statin could have a major impact as the agents have recently come of patent and are now more affordable.’’

HOPE-3’s findings will have a major influence on primary care in developed nations, where statins and antihypertensives are inexpensive, Yusuf added.  While still relatively inexpensive in developing nations, the drugs are less affordable in relation to income. Still, Yusuf said the study’s results hold promise everywhere as the price of these drugs start to come down.

“These simple methods can be used practically everywhere in the world, and the drugs will become even cheaper as more and more systems and people adopt these therapies,” he said.

Yusuf, Lonn and Bosch are presenting the HOPE-3 trials at the 2016 American College of Cardiology (ACC) Scientific Session and Expo in Chicago this weekend.

The HOPE-3 study is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and AstraZeneca.


For more information, contact:
Veronica McGuire
Media co-ordinator
Faculty of Health Sciences
McMaster University
905-525-9140, ext. 22169

In South Africa: Prof. Karen Sliwa, MD, PhD, FESC, FACC

  1.     Director: Hatter Institute of Cardiovascular Research in Africa, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa.


  1.     Sa Heart President


Cell: +27 834574823

Last updated Wednesday, 6 April 2016 15:20

SA Heart President nominated president-elect of WHF

Posted on Wednesday, 9 March 2016 12:21

SA Heart is proud to announce, that our current president, Prof Karen Sliwa, has been nominated as one of two candidates for president-elect for the World Heart Federation (WHF) for the term starting 1 January 2017.

The formal selection process will be carried out during the General Assembly of the World Heart Federation to be held in Mexico City on the 6th June 2016 during the World Congress of Cardiology.

As the WHF nomination committee puts it:

The Committee were impressed by the interest expressed by our members in nominating the best possible candidates for these positions. This enabled the Committee to have a fruitful discussion on the skills and competencies needed to lead the World Heart Federation over the coming years.  The members of the Committee recognise that you both demonstrate excellence in your contribution towards cardiovascular health in your respective countries, region and globally.

We congratulate Prof Sliwa and wish her all success for the election. Whatever the outcome of the election between Prof Sliwa and Dr Jagat Narula, the other candidate, Prof Sliwa will be assured of a place on the WHF Board in 2017-19.

SASCI Breaking News - Competition Commission HMI

Posted on Wednesday, 24 February 2016 14:11

For the first time SASCI (a Special Interest Group of SA Heart Association) presented cardiologists in a public forum to raise concerns on the inequalities in the private medical sector.


A delegation from SASCI lead by Dave Kettles (SASCI President) and JP Theron (Chair SA Heart PPC and SASCI PPC) and Dave Jankelow (SASCI PPC), George Nel (SASCI Executive Officer), Joe Botha (SASCI PPC Liaison) and Shakira Ramlakhan (Legal Representative Elsabe Klinck Consulting) used the opportunity on Thursday 18 February to address the Competition Commission Health Market Inquiry (HMI) in Pretoria during a marathon 2 hour session (incl. more than an hour of Q and A from a very interested and engaged panel). The HMI Chairperson is Former Chief Justice Sandile Ncgobo.


SASCI raised and address some key issues including -

  1.       The relationship between interventional cardiologists and their patients.
  2.       The power imbalance which results in patient disempowerment and disenfranchisement by the funder.
  3.       Lack of access to innovation and administrative roadblocks.
  4.       Access as a function of affordability AND availability:
  5.        Legal impediments leading to inadequate remuneration for professional services and impact on patient access to cardiologist care
  6.       The availability of cardiologists to treat patients in future
  7.       Rising complexity and the cost in the environment in which specialists practice.


Please find the YouTube video of the full presentation at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cn_elW48X0. Dave Kettles presentation starts at 49:50. The SASCI presentation will be made available on our website at www.sasci.co.za.


We wish to thank Dave Kettles and JP Theron whom spearheaded preparation and presented on the day as well as SASCI PPC members Jean Vorster and Gavin Angel, and from SA Heart Zaid Mohammed whom raised the issues and put it firmly on the table.


Various press engagements occurred immediately after the presentation and these will be circulated by follow-up mail and be available on our website.


-          This included an interview with Dave Kettles on 702 (Friday Midday Report).

-          http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2016/02/19/Medical-aids-pester-docs-over-patient-care

-          http://www.netwerk24.com/Nuus/Gesondheid/kansa-kardioloe-siekefondse-belet-sommige-behandelings-20160218


We request that our members refer interested parties to the SASCI Office for follow-up and appropriate engagement

Last updated Friday, 20 May 2016 14:07

Collaboration with EHRA

Posted on Thursday, 18 February 2016 15:30

The European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA), a sub-speciality group of the European Society of Cardiology approached the South African Heart Association (SA Heart), the Cardiac Arrhythmia Society of South Africa (CASSA) and the Pan African Society of Cardiology (PASCAR) for closer collaboration. the EHRA president, Prof Gerhard Hindricks from Germany, Prof Christophe Leclercq from France and Prof Peter Schwartz from Italy together with Svya Karaim Fanchon from the European Heart House met with Drs Andrew Thornton and Ashley Chin from CASSA to learn more about each other’s activities and structures and challenges and to discuss possibilities for collaboration in different aspects. 

Prof Karen Sliwa, president of SA Heart, was host to these meetings. The group started off with a discussions over dinner, proceeded with an intense meeting the next morning and concluded with a joint symposium on The Challenges on Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) at the Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Research in Africa, to which SA Heart members in the Cape region and others were invited. The international contingency immensely enjoyed their short stay and ensured they would be back.

Delegates and speakers ofthe Sudden Cardiac Death Symposium during lunch at the Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Research in Africa


EHRA-Saheart-CASSA.2.jpg 1.2M 18 Feb 16 15:30

SA Heart – new members on Exco and SA Heart NPC

Posted on Wednesday, 4 November 2015 13:35

SA Heart welcomes the new office bearers on the SA Heart Executive Committee whose tenure started with effect of the AGM on 26 October 2015.

Dr Liesl Zühlke has joined as president-elect of SA Heart, Prof Stephen Brown has been voted new vice president of SA Heart and Dr Sajidah Khan will take over the role as SA Heart secretary.

big thank you to Drs Adriaan Snyders, David Jankelow and Robbie Kleinloog who served in various capacities on committees and the executive over the past years. All three will remain active within the SA Heart structures, Dr Snyders as national champion of the SA Heart/SASCI early reperfusion STEMI project, Dr Jankelow in his tireless efforts assisting the Private Practice Committee in particular with issues with Funders as well as convenor of the SA Heart congress 2017 and Dr Kleinloog as convenor of the 26th World Congress of the World Society of Cardiothoracic Surgeons in 2016 which will incorporate the 17th Annual Congress of SA Heart.

The registration of the SA Heart Association Non Profit Company (NPC) has been finalised this week. We welcome Profs Karen Sliwa and Francis Smit as ex-officio members in their capacity of president and treasurer respectively as well as the elected members Drs Hellmuth Weich, Sajidah Khan and Belinda Mitchell to the Board of Directors of the NPC. The SA Heart Association and the SA Heart NPC will run concurrently until the end of the financial year – 29 February 2016 – when the Association will be fully dissolved and the NPC take its place from 1 March 2016.

The Executive Committee will remain in place and function as before, promoting the objectives of the company, acting as spokesperson locally and abroad and giving strategic guidance to the Board. The Board will be in charge of the daily administration of the company, fulfil functions as per Companies Act, keep accounts, collect subscriptions and prepare financial report and budgets for the General Assembly as well as be responsible for the National Central Office and retaining services of staff.



Annual reports of the SA Heart President, Committees and other groups

Posted on Thursday, 29 October 2015 16:38

The annual activity reports of the SA Heart President, Prof Karen Sliwa, as well as annual reports from all the SA Heart Standing Committees, Projects, Special Interest Groups and Regional Branches are now available on the SA Heart website and also in the newest SA Heart Newsletter Spring 2015.


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