Echocardiography is an essential diagnostic and clinical follow up tool. In The Gambia, to date, only two individuals have obtained a six-month full-time echocardiography training (Cairo, Egypt, 2012). Both are overwhelmed with the huge volume of work they are confronted with.
Bijilo Medical Centre ( www.bijilomedical.org ) is a non-ggovernmental health facility established with multiple support coordinated by Dr Musa Touray. In 2012, a “BMC Cardiology Iinitiative” was established through the support of Professor Jean Jacque Goy and Professor Stephan Cook.
Through this initiative, over 19 young patients obtained cardio surgical treatment either in Switzerland or in Dakar, Senegal. Funding for this initiative was provided jointly by “Une Chance, Un Coeur” and Bijilo Medical Center Since December 2021, we set out to establish an echocardiography laboratory at BMC. The need for this cannot be over emphasized: mainly to facilitate diagnosis of new cardio-surgical cases and to assure follow up of the operated cases which is growing in number.
Acquisition of the echocardiography machines
The BMC Echocardiography Laboratory is equipped with two ultrasound machines with modern and versatile cardiac ultrasonographic probes
- Orcheo Lite: Purchased in Switzerland with the support of Professor Goy, “Une Chance, Un Coeur” in April 2022, presently installed in BMC.
- Cansonic K12: Purchased by “Mandiou Foundation for Healthcare” in March 2022. Presently been shipped to The Gambia. Arrival date in The Gambia is estimated to be July
These machines will be protected against the destructive voltage surges by UPS equipment that hospital bought locally.
Premise of the Echocardiography laboratory
The echocardiography room is a well illuminated and ventilated room on the first floor of Building 1 of the hospital. Easily drawable curtains are installed. This allows adjustment of the intensity of light in the room as required for ultrasonographic examination.
The stairway leading to the room is wide and standard. A patient with mild dyspnea can be conveniently accompanied along the stair way.
Organisation of the laboratory
The BMC Echocardiography laboratory is under the full responsibility of the BMC administration and the BMC medical officers. Dr Ousman Nyan, a young Gambian physician who aspires to be trained as a cardiologist, is the key person responsible for the day to day operation of the laboratory.
Investments for the establishment and sustainable running of the laboratory is done by hospital administration. Further support will be sort and coordinated by the administration of BMC Fees for the echography investigations, subvention for patients and the upkeep of the laboratory is the responsibility of the hospital administration.
Training and capacity building
Trained cardiac echographers is scarce in The Gambia.
We anticipate various ways of assuring that sooner than later, a trained medical officer will be available in the hospital at all times to operate the laboratory.
Firstly, Dr Ousman Nyan will obtain training both from Dr Lamin Jaiteh and Mrs. Ramatoulie Njie. We are negotiating that these two trained echographers come to do echocardiographic examinations in our hospital with Dr Nyan.
Secondly, cardiologists from Switzerland will visit the hospital and work with Dr Nyan. We hope that in this way, gradually Dr Nyan will acquire the skill to perform echocardiography on his own.
Thirdly, training at distance using Telemedicine technology, may be installed to facilitate further training and exchange of data.
Finally, BMC will actively sort collaboration with “Une Chance, Un Coeur” and other institutions to encourage and support trained echocardiographers to effect work-visits at BMC.
The sustainable maintenance and development of the BMC Echocardiography Laboratory is important.
To assure sustainability, mutually benefiting working relationships will be nurtured with healthcare workers in The Gambia and Switzerland. In particular, BMC hopes to work closely with Professor Goy of “Une Chance, Un Coeur”, Dr Lamin Jaiteh and Mrs. Ramatoulie Mané.
Fees collected from echography unit will be used to pay renumerations of Gambian echographers, for the upkeep the unit and acquisition of further supporting equipment.
The hospital administration is responsible for recording the expenses and gains of this unit.
First Swiss Cardiologist Gambia Visit
Through a collaboration between “Une Chance, Un Coeur” and Bijilo Medical Center, Dr Samuel Antoine Stampfel, a Swiss Cardiology fellow will visit The Gambia from 7th to 17th June 2022. Dr Stampfel will be performing approximately ten echocardiography daily with Dr Ousman Nyan.
The schedule of Dr Stampfel will be coordinated by the administration of BMC and in particular by Mr. Bambo Gannes, Facility Manager, BMC.
A sensitization notice has been address to healthcare and the general public. This notice is annexed to this document.