In August 2022, Reach Technical Officer, Jessica Abrams, visited sites involved in the educational flipchart training programme in Belo Horizonte and Divinopolis. During the visit Reach, together with collaborating partners from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), the Children’s National Hospital (USA), and programme funder, Edwards Lifesciences Foundation, co-hosted the first Listen To My Heart (LTMH) patient event conducted in the region.
Reach, together with collaborating partners, visited a public-school screening site in Belo Horizonte which was followed by an evening scientific event. During the school visit the team observed the Reach Community Awareness Flipchart being used by health workers as part of the pre-echocardiogram screening education process with adolescent students. The early detection of RHD screening project, part of the multi-partner PROVAR + Project, illustrates how Reach is collaborating with existing initiatives focused on early detection through targeted health education.
During the evening scientific event with the Minas Gerais Society of Cardiology on valve disease and international programmes Jessica Abrams presented on the genesis of the patient education tool development and training in Minas Gerais, Brazil.
The LTMH patient event was a major highlight for all, which took place on day 2 at the UFMG Faculty of Medicine in Belo Horizonte. This is the first LTMH event hosted in Brazil, following previous notable events in Cape Town, Uganda, and Kenya. Medical students were markedly involved in the programme, starting the event by introducing patient stories to the audience and giving the stage to those patients to speak about their journey. Staying true to the format of previous events, various educational stations were set up and there was a lucky draw prize.
Jaqueline (figure 10) has undergone 4 open-heart surgeries in her 24 years of life. She was one of the first RHD patients shown the RHD and Surgery flipchart in 2021. Full of life and energy, Jaqueline loves sharing her story and being a beacon of hope for fellow RHD patients.
Finally, on day 3 partners ventured out of Belo Horizonte to a clinic in Divinopolis, a new site of flipchart activity for 2022. Following a tour of the facility and interview by the local news, Jessica spoke to the local team about the flipcharts and discussed both the importance of, and opportunities to strengthen, post-training evaluation. Following the clinic visit, clinicians accompanied visiting partners to the local medical school to observe how the flipcharts are being shared with students. There was interest expressed by students to take the tool with them into the clinics to aid communication with patients.