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A Mission in Cape Town, South Africa

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Earlier this year, between the 25thand the 29th of March 2017, a team of doctors from Milan’s Policlinic Hospital, headed by Dr. Ernesto Leva, traveled to South Africa. Their mission was to help move the first steps towards the creation of a Fetal Center in Cape Town’s Red Cross Children’s Hospital (RCCH).

The focal point of this trip was the 27th of March, a day which featured talks and discussions entirely revolving around themes such as Fetal Surgery and diagnostic techniques in Fetal Medicine. The day was organized by the RCCH’s Director of Pediatric Surgery, Prof. Alp Numanoglu; it featured interventions from various members of the Policlinic Hospital’s team. These interventions mainly focused on the Policlinic’s endeavours over the last 5 years, specifically on the creation of a Fetal Center within the hospital, and on its impact on fields such as neonatology and anesthesia. Over 30 professionals between doctors and nurses from the Universities of Cape Town and Stellenbosch participated to the day’s activities.

The Policlinic Hospital’s team’s goal, in discussing these topics, was to highlight the importance of Fetal Medicine as a field. Emphasizing the impact that a Fetal Center could have on the local population is vital in trying to kickstart specific activities of Fetal Medicine in the area. The long term objective is, in fact, not only to create a Fetal Center within the RCCH, but also to improve screening activities on pregnant women in the whole Western Cape region, which Cape Town is a part of. It was with pleasure, then, that we welcomed Dr. Alfonso Tagliaferri, the Italian Consul to Cape Town, to the event. His presence was an important sign of the Italian Authorities’ support for this project. With his help, we hope to be able to turn the South African Authorities’ attention to Fetal Medicine and to the benefits that a greater support for this field could have. In practical terms, this would translate to creating a number of fetal screening centers in the rural areas of the Western Cape, focusing especially on the main Townships.

Another important step, in this sense, would be to start a collaboration with the Groot Schuur Hospital, another Cape Town facility. On the 28th of March, the day after the trip’s main event, the Policlinic’s team of doctors visited the Groot Schuur Hospital, which is home to the largest maternal-neonatal clinic of the region. The main goal of this visit was to witness first-hand the procedures followed by the Hospital’s doctors, and to compare them to the Policlinic’s. If the aforementioned collaboration will eventually come to fruition, the idea would be to involve, at least initially, three universities: the Universities of Cape Town and Stellenbosch, and Milan’s Università degli Studi. In the long term, this collaborative network would eventually extend to include other international universities which work closely with Milan’s Policlinic Hospital. In what could be considered as the first instance of this collaboration, in the coming months some South African doctors will travel to Milan, to gain a first-hand insight of the Mangiagalli Clinic’s procedural protocols and organizational structure.

Cieli Azzurri supports these activities as part of our “Fetal Surgery” project. Through this project, we aim to support initiatives in the field of Fetal Medicine, with an international outlook. Another example of the initiatives that we support is given by a mission that took place last May, when a team of doctors from Milan’s Policlinic Hospital traveled to Sao Paulo, Brazil. To read more about this, please refer to the article “A mission in Sao Paulo, Brazil". Supporting research and formation, especially in fields as delicate as that of Fetal Medicine, has always been one of our main objectives as an Organization. We believe, in fact, that it is in fields of this sort that the most recent developments in technology and applied research can make a huge difference. If you wish to contribute to our efforts, please visit the “What You Can Do" section of our website. In order to make a donation specifically for this project, kindly specify “Fetal Surgery” as a project when prompted.

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