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Mpilo opens heart unit for children

by Staff reporter
30 Sep 2021 at 07:11hrs | Views
MPILO Central Hospital opened a pediatric cardiac centre yesterday, the second in Zimbabwe as Government pushes to ensure that those suffering from congenital heart diseases (CHD) are attended to locally.

CHD refers to abnormality in the heart that develops before birth and is one of the most common types of birth defects.

Symptoms include abnormal heart rhythms, blue-tinted skin, shortness of breath, failure to feed or develop normally, and swollen body tissue or organs.

Treatments include medication to lower blood pressure and control heart rate, heart devices, catheter procedures and surgery and those born with that disease may not live up to five years if no intervention is made to save their lives.

The Mpilo centre was established after requests by members of the public who for years were sometimes forced to travel to other countries for the services.

Yesterday's opening of the unit located at the Mpilo Pediatric Hospital was deliberately timed to coincide with the commemoration of World Heart Day which is observed annually on September 29.

The commemoration's objetive is to increase awareness of cardiovascular diseases and how to control them in order to negate their global impact.

In Zimbabwe, the service that will now be offered at Mpilo was only available in Harare at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals forcing members of the public from the southern region to incur huge travelling costs.

Many patients that required surgery were in the past forced to seek the services in South Africa and India.
Surgery costs for congenital heart disease can go up to US$10 000 excluding flights, accommodation and medicine which is out of reach for ordinary Zimbabweans.

At least 40 babies from Bulawayo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Midlands provinces succumbed to heart defects last year according to a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

One in every 1000 children is born with a CHD.

The report says Zimbabwe is among the most affected countries with a record of 200 affected children a year.

In a speech read on his behalf by Mpilo acting clinical director Mr Francis Chiwora, Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro said it was part of Government's plans to ensure heart surgeries are accessed locally by members of the public.

"The Government is facilitating the training of nurses and other health workers to join this team so that our unit becomes a success. It pains me to see our people spending forex to travel out of the country when we can save the hard-to-get forex and develop our own units by acquiring machinery so that all children can access this service," said Dr Mangwiro.

"I am happy to be here today to witness the opening of this unit which will serve our children with heart conditions and eventually we will be able to conduct surgeries from this place as the Government is committed to meeting this need."

In a speech read on her behalf by Khami district coordinator Ms Tsvagai Fikile Marovatsanga, Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube said she was happy that people in the southern region will have access to pediatric cardiological services from Mpilo.

"As a province we feel honoured as more specialist health facilities are commissioned. The opening of this specialist unit will offer readily available health care and improved treatment to our pediatric patients as well as offer research for our medical personnel. I am confident that this facility will help improve access to specialist services and corrective care to children with cardiac conditions," said Minister Ncube.

"In the past caregivers had to travel to other towns and countries in search of medical help. The commissioning of the Mpilo Pediatric Cardiac Centre bears testimony to the second Republic's commitment towards improving health care facilities in the country and to saving lives," she said.

She commended Brave Little Hearts founder Ms Tendai Moyo and other stakeholders for complementing

Government's efforts in fundraising towards the pediatric cardiac unit.
Ms Moyo founded the organisation after losing her daughter in 2018 who was born with a heart condition.

She said the baby had all the signs and symptoms at birth but was only diagnosed at six months which was already late.

"I did everything that a mother can do to save the life of her child but due to financial challenges and lack of services, she could not get help until she died. Her loss made me realise that a lot of young lives could be saved if information is available hence the formation of this organisation," she said.

Ms Moyo said lack of information pushed her to engage other affected parents and health workers to raise awareness around heart conditions."

She said the unit has basic beds and blankets and a lot is needed to support it.

"Now that we have a unit, we are grateful to all our sponsors and at the same time we are appealing for more funds so that we get the necessary machinery and resources to support our cardiologist and her team who will be helping our children here at Mpilo. This is one of my happiest days and I know that the unit will bring the much-needed relief to affected parents and children," she said.

A parent to one of the patients, Ms Esnath Chisvo from Gweru said there is a lot of stigma surrounding children with heart diseases which worsens the burden that the parents face.

She said as a teacher, she has struggled to even buy medication for her two-year-old daughter whose condition cannot be fixed even by surgery since she was diagnosed late.

"My daughter is suffering as I cannot afford to buy her medication and take her to other countries so that she is helped. What hurts most is the labels we get from communities and even families who do not have an understanding of heart diseases," she said.

Ms Chisvo said now that the unit has been opened at Mpilo, many children that have heart problems can now easily access life- saving services.

Source - chronicle
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