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Colours to Save Hearts: Raising awareness of RHD in Maputo, Mozambique

09 May 2022

In March 2022, WHF organized a site visit to Maputo, Mozambique, as part of the Colours to Save Hearts programme. Operated by the Mozambique Institute for Health Education and Research and implemented by the National Health Institute of Mozambique (INS), Colours to Save Hearts is a WHF initiative aimed at raising awareness of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) among children, teachers and parents, and educating them about the link between sore throat and RHD, how to recognise symptoms and what to do when they first appear.

The WHF team, led by WHF President Prof Fausto Pinto, visited four schools where the education programme was being conducted, and witnessed first-hand how the children and school teachers were now fully aware of the risks of RHD. This project started as a small campaign to raise awareness about RHD among school-age children in Mozambique, using nothing but a colouring book and some colouring crayons. It has since evolved into a much more ambitious project, aiming to train health workers on RHD prevention, and to support the capacity of local hospitals for much-needed surgeries to repair or replace damaged heart valves.  

The visit comprised a tour of community health centres receiving children with strep infections, including the Instituto Do Coração (ICOR), to which WHF donated USD 46,000 in order to support their RHD heart surgeries. During this time, the WHF team was joined by the Petit Coeur Foundation’s cardiac surgery team, which has been training ICOR’s local staff and providing medical equipment to the institute for the last few years, and WHF Member and programme partner The Heart Fund, which donated one point-of-care ultrasound and three digital stethoscopes to the National Health Institute and trained 25 healthcare practitioners from the institute on the use of this equipment.

The Heart Fund dispatched a team of cardiologists from the Group for Research and Actions against Cardiovascular diseases (GRAM) in Ivory Coast, who alongside our local team conducted a joint prevention and screening campaign in the local primary school of El Triunfo. This screening campaign allowed 700 children to receive a cardiology consultation, 383 children to receive an echocardiogram, and 94 strep tests to be done. 

In addition to these efforts, Prof Fausto Pinto met with the representatives of the Health and Education ministries to discuss how the Colours to Save Hearts should be implemented at the national level. On the last day, a press conference was held to interview both Prof Fausto and Prof Ana Mocumbi, Lead Researcher at the NCDs Division of INS, and a key collaborator of the programme. The Colours to Save Hearts initiative was aired on national television providing a spotlight on its efforts and further supporting WHF’s mission to raise awareness of this preventable disease.

Watch below a summary of the visit, and learn more about the programme by watching the interviews of WHF President Prof Fausto Pinto, Prof René Prêtre (Petit Coeur Foundation) and Prof Ana Mocumbi (National Public Health Institute of Mozambique).