We Partner

We are health care providers and partners from Ethiopia, Minnesota (U.S.) and India who seek to prevent and treat heart disease among Ethiopian children.

We sent Ethiopia’s first pediatric cardiac surgery team to India for training, to gain experience and specialized skills with conditions found among children living in poverty.

We sent expert heart surgery teams from the Minneapolis Heart Institute (U.S.) and from India to treat children in Ethiopia and to work side by side with Ethiopia’s first pediatric cardiac surgery team as part of their training.

We partner with physicians and universities in Ethiopia, who work with the Federal Ministry of Health to prevent rheumatic heart disease in children.

We are an initiative of the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, a nonprofit organization in the U.S.


Minnesota-based Friends of CHFE supports training of Ethiopian cardiac teams.

Ethiopian cardiac care teams who trained in India now perform surgeries at the Addis Ababa hospital. And a team of Ethiopian physicians launched a rheumatic heart disease prevention program.

Bangalore’s renowned Narayana Health Cardiac Center trains Ethiopian cardiac doctors, nurses, and technicians.

We are training Ethiopia’s first
pediatric cardiac surgery team.


Children with heart disease need specialized care. Ethiopia has made great progress in developing a primary care system, but training in heart disease has been limited.

That’s where we come in. The Friends of the Children’s Heart Fund of Ethiopia (Friends of CHFE) supports health professionals in Ethiopia to prevent and treat heart disease.

For children requiring highly specialized care, we work with a cardiac center in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, to train the specialists needed. We have focused on training Ethiopia’s first pediatric cardiac surgical team.  At the request of the cardiac center, the Ethiopian government selected a small group of Ethiopian medical professionals, who we sent to Bangalore, India for specialized training over 2-4 years.

The team members are:

  • Pediatric cardiac surgeons
  • Pediatric and adult cardiologists
  • Perfusionists (for heart-lung machines)
  • Intensive care nurses
  • Anesthesiologists


The Ethiopian cardiac surgery team completed their training in Bangalore in 2017 and returned to Ethiopia. Thanks to Narayana Health and its renowned private hospital and cardiac center in Bangalore, the Ethiopian team had a remarkable opportunity to train intensively in a high volume surgical center, treating children and young adults with congenital and rheumatic heart disease.

Now our U.S. medical volunteers travel to Addis Ababa to continue the Ethiopian team’s training as they develop their country’s first pediatric cardiac surgery program.


Thousands of children each year in Ethiopia get rheumatic heart disease (RHD). This can be prevented. Rheumatic heart disease is a complication of rheumatic fever that damages heart valves. Rheumatic fever, an inflammatory disease, begins with strep throat. The best way to prevent rheumatic fever is to treat strep throat with antibiotics.

Health professionals in Ethiopia have developed a pilot program in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health, to integrate RHD prevention and control into health service delivery at the primary care level. Friends of CHFE is supporting this effort.

Image of a Mother and Child in Ethiopia

We can prevent the years of disability Daniel experienced from rheumatic heart disease.

The program includes:

  • Treating sore throats caused by the strep bacteria.
  • Giving monthly penicillin injections over years to children who have already had some low-level heart valve damage from RHD, to prevent the damage from worsening.
  • Creating a registry of patients with RHD so they can be tracked for follow up long term, to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of the pilot program, and to provide adequate data on the burden of the disease for government planners.

This level of treatment requires a chronic care health system that can follow and treat a child over a period of years until the risk of strep throat is reduced in adulthood.

If a child’s heart valves are badly damaged from RHD, the child will require costly and difficult surgery to repair or replace the valves. In some cases, the damage is too difficult to repair, and the child will not survive.

The key to eliminating this suffering is prevention.

Image of Ethiopian boys laughing

We’re collecting data on heart disease in children
to encourage investment in treatment.

Ethiopia has limited data on the prevalence of heart disease in children and young adults, so it’s difficult for the government to plan how to address the needs of the population.  There are only a few cardiac centers in Ethiopia that can diagnose and provide some forms of treatment for children. For most children with heart disease, there is no pathway to care yet. So good data is critical to help inform the government on where to focus their efforts as they make plans for expanding the health system.

To begin collecting this data, Friends of CHFE supported a research study by a group of Ethiopian physicians, coordinated by Dr. Dejuma Yadeta at Addis Ababa University. Their study looked at the spectrum of cardiovascular disease in six main referral hospitals in different regions of Ethiopia, looking at all patients with heart disease, young and old, who came to these hospitals.

The study showed that rheumatic heart disease was the most common cardiovascular diagnosis among all patients seen at cardiology clinics at those hospitals.

The patients at the cardiology clinics were young – the median age was 33 years. 

The results have been shared with the Federal Ministry of Health to improve understanding of the needs and treatment gaps, particularly for children and young adults.

As part of the rheumatic heart disease pilot program, Friends of CHFE is supporting efforts to increase community awareness of RHD. Planning is underway now to develop activities in schools and in the media.

We know that the only way to reach one million children with heart disease across Ethiopia is to develop expertise in local healthcare providers. Our work:

  • Supported the creation of Ethiopia’s first cardiac surgery team — a multi-disciplinary team of 10-12 surgeons, cardiologists, anesthesiologists, perfusionists, and nurses.
  • Supported data collection on rheumatic heart disease that catalyzed the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health to develop plans to integrate rheumatic heart disease prevention and treatment into the country’s health system.
  • Supports the non-profit cardiac care center in Addis Ababa to run independently and sustainably, so the center can provide ongoing care to thousands who need it each year.
  • Supports health professionals who work with the Ethiopian government to reduce the prevalence of rheumatic heart disease by building awareness and knowledge about treatment.