Synopsis by Mark Deming
In Africa and many other parts of the Third World, poverty is common and health care is costly, so seemingly minor childhood ailments often go untreated. However, strep throat and other infectious conditions can lead to rheumatic fever, which in children can cause weakened heart valves, a condition that usually proves fatal without surgery. The Salam Center is a hospital in Sudan created to deal with the growing problem of pediatric heart disease in Africa, providing state of the art cardiac treatment without charge to those who need it. Funded by the European charitable concern Emergency, the Salam Center is run by Dr. Gino Strada, whose experience as a combat surgeon has prepared him for the stress of this assignment, and Dr. Emmanuel Rusingiza, the only public cardiologist among Rwanda's eleven million citizens. Filmmaker Kief Davidson offers a look into life at the Salam Center in the documentary Open Heart, which profiles a handful of youngsters from Rwanda who have come to Sudan in need of treatment, as well as Strada and Rusingiza's never-ending struggle to keep the hospital open and funded. Open Heart received a 2013 Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Short Subject.
Africa, disease, hospital, pediatrics, poverty, surgeon