Cardiac Surgical Missions: What Works, What Does Not, Where We Need to Go From Here

Purpose of review: Although overall neonatal and infant mortality continues to decrease around the world, years of life lost to congenital heart disease (CHD) rank among the top 10 leading causes for that age group in Latin America, Central Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Short-term surgical missions (STSMs) continue to be the only resource available in some areas of the world.

Recent findings: There is a need for better communications between charity organizations and the supported institutions. We observe a raising concern with the limited published information on the results of the STSMs and a call for patient safety, the use of international databases and accountability.Funding and human resources in low-income and middle-income countries (LMIC) are a persistent problem and a shift toward long-term collaboration rather than short-term visits opens the path to sustainability.The cost-effectiveness of STSMs treating congenital heart disease in LMIC seems to be very high whereas the management of adults with CHD and rheumatic valvulopathies appear as a growing concern.

Summary: Pediatric cardiac surgery STSMs continue to deserve full support and funding, long-term commitments, accountability and coordinated international funding are needed to achieve global sustainable coverage.