Quality (36) Introduction: Bistra Zheleva, USA - Children's HeartLink

19 June, 2021


My name is Bistra Zheleva, I work at Children's HeartLink an NGO based in Minneapolis, USA and focused on building capacity and advocating for quality pediatric cardiac services globally. Our core work is with hospitals in low- and middle-income countries to help them develop into centers of excellence in pediatric cardiac care and training. We currently have 18 hospital partners in 5 countries and 5 are CoEs. Most of what we focus on is quality improvement that results in improved patient outcomes, which in our field translate directly into patient survival. We also help develop patient care pathways to assure referral and follow up of children with heart disease. Finally, we advocate through awareness building and research to contribute to the body of knowledge in this field.

Congenital heart disease is the most common birth defect in the world and globally it is rising as a cause of infant mortality, causing about 217,000 deaths annually, with 70% of those in infants. Rheumatic heart disease is a completely preventable disease of poverty that affects adolescents and causes about 306,000 deaths globally. Globally, 10.4 million young people (ages 1-24) live with RHD and 9.4 million (ages newborn-19) live with congenital heart disease. Together these two diseases build a significant burden of heart diseases in children that is treated largely with open heart surgery, a clinical intervention that unless performed with high quality skills and care may result in untimely death or long-term complications.

I am also a member of the International Quality Improvement Collaborative for Pediatric Cardiac Care, a collaborative of pediatric cardiac centers from LMICs participating in a global registry of more than 100,000 patient cases and implementing QI interventions to reduce mortality and morbidity.

I look forward to the discussions in this group, learning from everyone, and sharing our experience over the last 20+ years.


Bistra Zheleva

Vice President of Global Strategy and Advocacy

Children’s HeartLink

T +1 952.928.4860 ext 19

M +1 612.709.6657

Minneapolis, USA

Who Made That Twitter Bird? - The New York Times@bzheleva


HIFA profile: Bistra Zheleva is Vice President of Global Strategy and Advocacy at Children's HeartLink in the USA. Email address: bistra AT childrensheartlink.org