The University of Cape Town (UCT) recently hosted, for the first time, the annual seminar of the World Heart Federation Emerging Leaders programme. Created in 2014, Emerging Leaders (ELs) is among the first international training programmes on cardiovascular implementation research.
“The main objective of the programme is to build up capacity, professional development, mentorship, and networking of cardiovascular disease (CVD) Emerging Leaders (ELs) in 100 countries,” says World Heart Foundation’s President-Elect Dr. Karen Sliwa, who hosted the event at the Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Research in Africa.
Of the 25 ELs selected through a competitive process from around the world, three participants were selected from UCT. During the year among other activities, the ELs meet face-to-face to participate in an interactive five-day think tank seminar with senior CVD investigators to develop tangible, collaborative, multinational, innovative and interdisciplinary projects with a goal of contributing to the reduction of CVD premature mortality.
The 2017 seminar focused on the cross-cutting theme of access to essential medicines. Professor Sliwa, who is also the first woman and African to be elected as President of the federation, says the meeting was important for two reasons:
“The spotlight is now on cardiovascular diseases which are common in Africa as well as diseases from other low to middle-income countries. This meeting is significant in that this is the first time it has come to Africa, and this gave us an opportunity to come up with solutions for essential care for Africa.”
The 2017 ELs created collaborative research proposals to achieve two of the ambitious World Health Organisations “25×25” indicators and will use the training received to pursue works that turn knowledge into action for better health. The collaborative aspect of the programme has already proved successful through the generation of publications and the influence on national policy such as data collected to support Uganda’s national smoke-free law.