As a result of a meeting with the Hon Dr Navin Ramgoolam, the Prime Minister of Mauritius – an ex-UCL alumnus – Dr Walker has had the privilege of being involved in a number of national projects in Mauritius. A country with an unenviably high incidence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Dr Walker was invited by Dr Ramgoolam to join an eminent group of physicians and scientists, from around the world, helping the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life to develop a National Service Framework (NSF) for Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease. This project was geared to reducing the burden of these diseases in Mauritius.
Having helped draft the NSF document, several practical projects have begun, including a series of centres providing exercise-based training programmes for individuals at high risk, or recovering from cardiovascular disease. The preventative arm of this effort has focused on establishing ‘pre-habilitation’ as a concept – where improvement in physical conditioning is achieved in individuals before the onset of disease complications. Research will establish if this programme is associated with improved clinical outcomes.
Other important developments arising from this involvement have been a series of international seminars, organised through the Hatter Cardiovascular Institute, with the most recent event held in August 2014 and attracting an audience of more than 500 health care professionals from around the island.
A clinical trial has been successfully completed (the first such event for Mauritius), that explored the ability of a simple non-pharmacological treatment called remote pre-conditioning to reduce heart damage during heart attacks. This work has been submitted for publication in a major international medical journal.
India and the countries of the Middle East
Dr Walker has regularly been involved in educational seminars for doctors, nurses and professionals allied to medicine on the topic of the heart in Thalassaemia and Sickle Cell Disease. This commitment to education has also included many seminars and lectures to patients and their families, usually organised through the auspices of Thalassaemia International Federation and the UK Thalassaemia Society, amongst others.
Regular teaching visits to India and many countries in the Middle East have been undertaken to promote prevention and better management of cardiovascular complications in the inherited blood disorders.
In India, Dr Walker participates in Thalassaemia clinical ‘camps’, where many dozens of affected patients and their families come great distances to receive clinical care, funded by the local Thalassaemics India charity.