Ongoing activities

Aswan Heart Centre Egypt

The Aswan Heart Center (AHC) in Southern Egypt combats congenital and acquired heart disease at the highest level of quality. All patients are treated free of charge. Based on this philosophy, it represents a unique flagship project in humanitarian engagement that improves the life chances of thousands of disadvantaged people in Egypt and across Africa.

The AHC is an exceptional hospital and was founded in 2009 by Prof. Sir Magdi Yacoub, one of the world’s most respected cardiac surgeons, scientists and medical lecturers. It embraces modern medicine and the Yacoub doctrine: hard work, perseverance and going the extra mile to serve the patients with the very best degree of medical expertise and respect.

Following the same vision, ideals and objectives, ROBINAID was invited to collaborate with this great institution and for many years we have been closely associated with our friends in Aswan. We are involved in the daily work in the paediatric intensive care unit, conduct joint training programs and pass on knowledge, skills and expertise to young colleagues from other cardiac centres and countries.

About 1,200 complex heart surgeries and 2,800 interventional procedures are performed annually; 600 dedicated staff members including 100 doctors and 270 nurses are contributing to the high reputation of the AHC; the centre has 41 intensive care beds, 50 ward beds, two operating theatres, two catheter suites, 9 outpatient exam rooms (consultation of about 35,000 patients / year), and a state-of-the-art imaging center including CT- and MRI-scanner. In 2016, a fully operational research building was inaugurated.

Newborns with transposition of the great arteries, one of the most critical cyanotic congenital heart disease in the neonatal period, from all over Egypt are transferred to Aswan and about 150 arterial switch operations are done each year; there is no other single centre in the world treating a higher number of this disease which requires a demanding management from side of the surgery as well as from the critical care; it exemplarily testifies the outstanding performance the AHC has gained.

Yaoundé Heart Project Cameroon

Across Cameroon and the neighboring countries of Central Africa, there is no facility that offers the full range of diagnostic and treatment procedures for congenital and acquired heart defects. For several years, ROBINAID participated in medical visiting teams at the TSSF General Hospital Shisong near Kumbo in the Northwest Region of the country. Little by little, a small but well-trained team grew up on site.

Unfortunately, the socio-political situation became more and more difficult due to long-running tensions between the anglophone and francophone population; as a wave of violence was shaken the region the missions to Shisong lastly had to be stopped at the end of 2018 for security reasons.

Out of responsibility towards the patients and the local team, it was decided to move the project to the capital, Yaoundé, to continue in a safer and more accessible location; at the Jordan Medical Complex, an operating room was technically upgraded, and a temporary 5-bed intensive care unit was set up. After less than 6 months, we were able to restart the project in May 2019 with the first surgeries in this new interim solution.

After a series of regular missions, we re-assessed the situation. However, it became apparent that working under such structural and technical deficits and without expansion options could not meet the high demands in the care of heart patients; we concluded that the best solution would be to expand the vision and concept of the MY Aswan Heart Center to Cameroon and create a completely new center within the next few years. Although we know this will be very ambitious, we have decided to take on this challenge.

To run this new strategy from the start with a local institutional partner, the charitable Heart of Cameroon Foundation (HOF) was founded in 2022, based in Yaoundé. In order to close the gap until the new facility is realized, we continue to support the HOF team by missions at the Yaoundé General Hospital; in addition, we refer infants in need of urgent surgery to Aswan according to available capacities.

Implementation of Emergency Critical Care in Cameroon

Critical illnesses claim too many lives every day in Cameroon due to the severe shortage of infrastructure, trained medical professionals and financial resources. In the light of an urgent the need to fundamentally improve this untenable situation, ROBINAID and the Cameroon Association of Critical Care Nurses developed the Concept of Emergency Critical Care (ECC), which provides reliable, practical and affordable care for patients of all ages in critical conditions.

The ECC strategy is to focus on early detection of whether a patient is in a life-threatening condition or at risk of getting into such a serious state; the concept aims to stabilize vital functions in a timely manner, determine the cause of the problem and carry out targeted interventions to improve respiratory, circulatory, renal, metabolic, and neurological organ functions. Using point-of-care ultrasound and laboratory testing, the correct diagnosis is initially sought, and the effect of the treatment begun is re-assessed. ECC procedures include the application of specific pharmacotherapy, mechanical ventilation, and peritoneal dialysis.

Training in ECC is a two-year in-service course, supplemented by mentoring and continuous performance reviews. We convey the theoretical teaching content through a combination of e-learning and face-to-face lectures. Practical workshops take place every three months at the Essential Health Higher Institute in Foumbot. This institution, associated to the University of Bamenda, is our main partner, with whom we have brought the training in ECC to an academically recognized level.

In hospitals of our clinical partner, the Baptist Convention Health Services, we support the development of state-of-the-art, standardized emergency intensive care units, each with six to eight treatment places. We promote the procurement of cardiovascular monitoring systems, ventilators, point-of-care ultrasound and laboratory diagnostic devices. In addition, we ensure access to the supply of medicines and consumables.

Short-term missions

At the request of other humanitarian medical aid organizations that require intensive care physicians and nursing staff, we repeatedly take part in short-term or urgent emergency missions.

In recent years, we have been to Dohuk + Baghdad (Iraq), Damascus (Syria) and Amman (Jordan) several times. Missions to perform cardiac surgeries for Palestinian and Syrian refugee children, such as at the Amman Gardens Hospital, are particularly close to our hearts.

ROBINAID ACADEMY

In view of the enormous shortage of trained doctors and nurses in cardiac and emergency critical care in our countries of operation, we founded the ROBINAID ACADEMY in 2018 to expand and professionalize the range of structured and certified training offers. We are following a three-level concept of basic, advanced, and specialized training, added by a Continuous Medical Education Program (CME) to maintain and renewal the acquired abilities. Furthermore, we support applied research projects, including PhD studies; regular scientific events complement our academy’s educational program.

We run a large proportion of our courses as online formats. This approach has proven to be very efficient and we are currently developing a freely accessible, cloud-based e-learning platform that covers a large part of our theoretical teaching content; the practical workshops usually take place in presence on site.

Scientific events

The Bremen International Medical Class Global Critical Care is a joint project between ROBINAID ACADEMY and the Bremen Symposium on Intensive Care Medicine + Nursing, with annually more than 4,500 attendees one of the largest and renowned German medical congresses dealing with the topics of Anaesthesia + Emergency + Critical Care Medicine + Nursing.

For more than 9 years, we have been closely associated with this important scientific event. Our satellite symposium provides the opportunity to meet, exchange ideas and learn from each other; this is particularly fruitful for our global community of doctors, nurses and technical assistants who come from different countries, cultures and medical worlds.

The 1st All African Emergency Critical Care Congress in collaboration with the Cameroon Association of Critical Care Nurses and the African Association of Critical Care Nurses was held in Yaoundé in November 2023. More than 180 participants and 15 outstanding speakers from eight different countries made this first conference on improving the care of critically ill patients in Sub-Saharan Africa a great success.

Our ambitious goal is to establish this conference as a second scientific meeting every year in November and to make it interesting for both international colleagues and our African friends. In doing so, we are following our vision of building bridges with medicine, and a bridge always has two sides from which it can be crossed.

We are living in extraordinary times; political and social tendencies towards nationalism, exclusion, division, and racism are becoming stronger everywhere. Setting up an example of solidarity, mutual respect, and moving together closely is more important than ever.

Finalized activities

Kabul / Afghanistan

At the French Medical Institute for Children (FMIC) in Kabul, founded in 2006 by the French humanitarian organization La Chaîne de l’Espoir and operated by the Agha Khan Development Network, we provided support in setting up the first paediatric critical care unit and cardiac anaesthesia in Afghanistan. For more than five years, ROBINAID specialists from the fields of paediatrics, anaesthesia, intensive care, and pharmacy were on site, working and living with our Afghan colleagues and accompanying them to independence.

Joining this project in 2009 marked the beginning of our organization’s activities; it was such an extremely source of experience and an important learning phase that significantly influenced our entire further development. Today, the FMIC is still self-sufficient, even under the new conditions following the Taliban’s return to power. More than ever, this unique hospital is a blessing for Afghan children, and a big piece of our heart will always remain there.

Bukarest + Iasi / Romania

At the Marie Curie Children’s Hospital in Bucharest, the largest children’s hospital in Romania, ROBINAID supported the establishment of the first paediatric cardiac surgery department in southern Romania as part of a joint project between the Romanian Ministry of Health, the Italian organization Bambini Cardiopatici nel Mondo and the local non-governmental organization Inima Copiilor. From 2012 to 2017, we participated in regular monthly medical visit teams and provided intensive care doctors and nurses.

We also went on joint missions to the Cardiovascular Center of the Medical University of Iasi; in addition, we conducted two academic teaching programs on paediatric cardiac critical care at the Medical Universities of Bucharest and Iasi.

Dakar / Senegal + Cairo / Egypt

From 2014 to 2017, ROBINAID sent critical care teams to the Dakar Fann National University. In common missions with Bambini Cardiopatici nel Mondo, we assisted our Senegalese colleagues in treating children with complex congenital heart diseases. During this time, the Cuomo Paediatric Cardiac Centre went into operation.

Furthermore, from 2014 to 2016, we supported the Department of Paediatric Cardiac Surgery at the Giza El Agouza Hospital in Cairo through regular missions with our Italian friends.