Ehete Bahiru, MD, a resident in internal medicine, has received a fellowship from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish a pilot project to create a heart attack registry with the goal of developing a quality improvement program to improve cardiovascular health across sub-Saharan Africa.
Dr. Bahiru recently received a Fogarty award through the NIH Fogarty International Center to support her work; earlier this year, she was also awarded Northwestern University’s Center for Global Health post-graduate fellowship in global health.
Dr. Bahiru will spend a year in Nairobi, Kenya, to create a registry tracking acute coronary syndrome (ACS) at a hospital affiliated with the University of Nairobi and Kenyatta National Hospital. The registry will contain data on patient demographics, presentation, management and outcomes. She will collaborate with Frederick Buckachi, MD, and Tecla Temu, MD, in Nairobi and Carey Farquhar, MD, at the University of Washington.
“It’s very important to have this registry because there are evidence-based international guidelines for management of a heart attack,” she said. “Having an ACS registry will be a step towards identifying potentially modifiable factors to provide optimal care.”
Dr. Bahiru said her passion for global health stemmed from witnessing medical need while growing up in Ethiopia. While in medical school, her interest in heart disease grew, and she investigated ways she could integrate heart disease research and global health.
Since starting her residency at the McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University, Dr. Bahiru has been conducting global health research under the mentorship of Mark Huffman, MD, MPH, assistant professor of Preventive Medicine in the Division of Epidemiology, and of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology.
Her project builds on Dr. Huffman and his team’s work in Kerala, India, through their National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute sponsored Acute Coronary Syndrome Quality Improvement in Kerala (ACS QUIK) trial.
“Ehete has developed skills in systematic reviewing with me and will synthesize evidence on heart attack quality improvement trials,” Dr. Huffman said. “It is notable that she has been selected for two fellowship grants.”
While in Kenya, Dr. Bahiru will also lead focus group discussions and perform in-depth interviews with physicians, patients and healthcare workers involved in the management of patients who present with heart attack.
“The goal is to be able to understand facilitators and barriers to optimal management of patients presenting with heart attack. We aim to assess attitudes, knowledge and behaviors about quality improvement interventions,” she said. “We hope to facilitate optimal care to patients that present with heart attack as it is contributing to the steadily rising cardiovascular disease burden and morbidity in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
She hopes to expand her work to other institutions in the region and develop larger scale registries, which will eventually lead to policy changes.
“I feel very optimistic. In seeing how ACS registries have taken effect in other nations, our hope is to scale it up to multi-institutional and regional registry that will have an impact on policy change,” Dr. Bahiru said.