Situated in the heart of South Africa, the University of the Free State (UFS) has already demonstrated its commitment to addressing critical healthcare challenges faced by Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). One of its most notable recent achievements came in the form of Dr Kgomotso Moroka from the Faculty of Health Sciences at the UFS, who has just become the only diploma holder of Advanced Studies in Cardiac Arrhythmia Management in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
The visionary Dr Moroka, Acting Head of the Department for Cardiology, graduated in June with a DAS-CAM, a distinctive postgraduate programme offered by Maastricht University in collaboration with the European Heart Rhythm Association and the European Society of Cardiology. She says that she hopes her completion of an Electrophysiology Fellowship will contribute to the improvement of cardiovascular services in the Free State, across South Africa and the entire SSA. Dr Moroka was part of a third cohort comprising of 32 electrophysiologists selected from over 20 countries worldwide for the 2-year study.
Seizing a valuable opportunity
Dr Moroka emphasised that currently there is a lack of electrophysiology services provided in both the public and private sectors. She therefore anticipates that her newly acquired skills and knowledge will play a pivotal role in enhancing and improving these services. She is also optimistic about contributing to the establishment of a department dedicated to Electrophysiology Training.
“I could not pass up the opportunity to engage with, learn and gain insights from seasoned world-class great minds of electrophysiology who write the books we read and the very guidelines we utilise in our daily practices. There was also an opportunity to be guided in research and the state-of-the-art cardiac clinical electrophysiology while also obtaining insights into how to develop a cardiac arrhythmia centre, biostatics, health economics, leadership skills and health technology assessment,” Dr Moroka explained her motivation to enrol in the programme.
“It was a challenging and exciting program that allowed participants to engage with world-renowned experts in electrophysiology not only on a professional but also personal level. It served not only to educate participants on clinical cardiac electrophysiology but also served empowered us to fulfil roles as future leaders in electrophysiology and in our day-to-day roles,” she continued.
Addressing the diverse burden of cardiac diseases
Dr Moroka believes that her qualification will significantly contribute to local efforts to establish and develop a much-needed unique service, thereby advancing her career development locally and on the international platform. This qualification also enables her to expand her clinical research pursuits on multiple fronts.
Dr Moroka points out that with the advent and advances in machine learning and digital health technology, it is the dawn of an exciting era of possibilities in obtaining valuable biological data and biometric parameters that would assist in the reduction of risk and prevention of a diversity of cardiovascular diseases and to guide clinical practice guidelines. “The current focus is risk reduction, prevention of cardiovascular diseases and the establishment and development of personalised health care, with a growing interest in cardiovascular genetics and gene therapy. Who knows what the future will bring, but for now the focus is to work towards good health and disease alleviation,” she says.
Cardiac Arrhythmias: A Looming Health Challenge
Cardiac arrhythmias, (irregular heartbeats disrupting the normal rhythm of the heart), are a significant and growing health concern globally. SSA is no exception with a rising prevalence of cardiovascular diseases and limited resources to combat them effectively. Cardiac arrhythmias can lead to severe complications, including strokes, heart failure and even sudden cardiac death if not managed appropriately.
In this challenging scenario, there is a dire need for specialised medical professionals who possess the knowledge and skills to diagnose, treat and manage cardiac arrhythmias. Dr Moroka’s journey is an inspiring testament to the transformative power of dedicated individuals in the field of healthcare. With a background in cardiology and a keen understanding of the region’s healthcare challenges, Dr Moroka envisions a programme that would equip healthcare professionals with the expertise needed to tackle cardiac arrhythmias effectively.
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