Diagnosing and treating congenital heart disease outside of developed countries remain major problems for pediatric health across the world, despite some recent improvements in strategies and infrastructure in selected nations.
The disparity is tremendous, with about one facility capable of performing open-heart surgery for every 120,000 people in America, compared with one similarly capable center for every 33 million people in Africa, or for every 16 million people in Asia. This means that “the majority [of children with congenital and acquired heart diseases] will never receive the treatment they need,” according to a release by the Children's HeartLink, an international medical charity founded in 1969. The charity produced a report entitled “Linked by a Common Purpose: Global Efforts for Improving Pediatric Heart Health,” available at www.childrensheartlink.org
The report details the incidence and prevalence of congenital and acquired heart disease. Although congenital heart problems occur at similar rates in both the developed and developing world, diagnosis and treatment are often delayed in the poorer countries, which creates a significant backlog of cases for treatment centers, even when treatment is available.