RHD and PEN-Plus: highlights of PASCAR’s Congress in Johannesburg

Author: Kelsey Soderberg, NCD Synergies
November 22, 2019

From October 31st to November 3rd 2019, the Pan-African Society of Cardiology (PASCAR), South Africa Heart Association (SA Heart), and AfricaPCR held their annual Congress in Johannesburg. Dr. Gene Bukhman and Dr. Sheila Klassen represented the NCD Synergies team at Partners In Health and Harvard Medical School, joining cardiology colleagues leading discussions around the effective control of cardiovascular disease across Africa.

Honoring the late Bongani Mayosi, a South African cardiologist and former commissioner of the Lancet NCDI Poverty Commission, the Bongani Mayosi Memorial Lecture on November 2nd highlighted Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) in Africa. Until his untimely death in 2018, Dr. Mayosi was a leading voice for addressing cardiovascular diseases of poverty in Africa. This session was dedicated to rheumatic heart disease, a disease of poverty stemming from Strep throat and rheumatic fever.

The plenary session highlighted some of Africa’s foremost RHD advocates and thought leaders:

  • Dr. Prebo Barango, the NCD Focal Point for the WHO Intercountry Support Team for East & Southern Africa, presented on Africa’s response to the WHA resolution calling for greater action on RHD. In this discussion he highlighted the role of both WHO’s Package of Essential Noncommunicable Disease interventions (PEN) for primary care, as well as a potential strategy to address severe, chronic NCDs in the African region (PEN-Plus) to strengthen WHO AFRO’s emerging work on RHD control in Africa, specifically emphasizing decentralization of echocardiography, heart failure management, and anti-coagulation to rural district hospitals in the region.
  • Dr. Emmy Okello of the Uganda Heart Institute furthered this discussion on PEN-Plus and reiterated the need to integrate and incorporate RHD into continent-wide policy on severe, chronic NCDs.
  • Dr. Ana Mocumbi, Vice President of the PASCAR Southern region and co-chair of the Lancet NCDI Poverty Commission, discussed the need to frame RHD as a disease of poverty and inequality. Dr. Mocumbi highlighted the objectives of the NCDI Poverty Commission and the need to focus on the diverse set of severe conditions affecting those living in extreme poverty.
Gene Bukhman / Harvard Medical School
Dr. Ana Mocumbi, Vice President of the PASCAR Southern region and co-chair of the NCDI Poverty Commission, presents on the need to frame RHD as a disease of poverty and inequity.

To further the goals of the Lancet NCDI Poverty Commission, the second Southern African Regional NCDI Poverty meeting was held while the group was congregated in Johannesburg. The group, met to broadly discuss next steps for the Southern African region to better assess the NCDI burden specific to settings of poverty and interventions needed to address these challenges.

Harvard Medical School
Members of the second Southern African Regional NCDI Poverty meeting congregated in Johannesburg during the week of the PASCAR Congress.