Heart Reseacrh Foundation


Project Overview

A group of doctors and scientists is making a remarkable contribution to research into heart disease in Namibian children. The HAROLD AND ETHEL PUPKEWITZ HEART FOUNDATION supports a team led by Paediatric Cardiologist Dr Christopher Hugo-Hamman at the Windhoek Central Hospital. The HEPHF was established in 2011 by the late Mr Harold Pupkewitz with a grant of N$ 1.7 million. The research group has added another N$ 1 117 380 through research grant awards.

The objectives of the Foundation

• to support research into heart disease in children in Namibia

• to identify young medical scientists and build research capacity in our country

• to generate robust data through which to influence public policy

Rheumatic Heart Disease Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) is an endemic and preventable disease of poverty which occurs in children and this has been the major focus of their research. RHD is the consequence of acute rheumatic fever caused by untreated Streptococcus bacterial sore throat. RHD damages the heart valves so badly the majority of patients require life-saving heart surgery.

• Globally RHD accounts for up to 1.4 million deaths per year.

• RHD is the most common cause of acquired heart disease among children in developing countries and affects approximately 0.5 – 3% of school-aged children in Africa.

• The prevalence of RHD amongst high school children in southern Africa is as high as 30/1000.

• RHD is the single most important cause of acquired heart disease in Namibia

• RHD is entirely preventable by treating sore throat in children with penicillin.

The future To expand our research base and broaden our reach we require additional funding from corporations, financial institutions, individuals and philanthropists. Our vision is to support heart disease research in children engaging with clinician scientists at the University and the Polytechnic of Namibia.


• The Hon. Mr Tom Alweendo, Minister of Economic Planning and Director General of the

• National Planning Commission (Chairman)

• Dr Henning du Toit, Cardiothoracic Surgeon

• Dr Solly Alweendo, former Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health, Paediatrician, Businessman

• Mrs Meryl Barry (nee Pupkewitz), Chair of the Pupkewitz Foundation

• Dr Christopher Hugo-Hamman, Paediatric Cardiologist (Principal Officer).



The “Namibian Registry for Rheumatic Heart Disease” initiated by the research team in 2010 has studied over 600 patients with this killer disease.

• The “National programme for the prevention and control of rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in Namibia”, is testimony to the importance of the data collected in this research.

• Participating in the third “All Africa workshop on RF and RHD” in February 2015 we helped the African Union develop “A Roadmap Towards the Eradication of Rheumatic Heart Disease in Africa” adopted by African Union Health Ministers in on May 2015.

• The group was awarded N$ 875 000 by WELCOME TRUST to investigate the genetics of rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease.

• The group has now been invited to participate in a large clinical trial called INVICTUS