Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

26 November 2012

Tanzania: Heart Surgery Sponsors Deserve Ovation

ON Friday last week, a total of 37 heart children with 29 escorts including one doctor and three nurses left for Narahana Hrudayalaya Heart institute Bangalore, and Fortis Escort Heart Institute New Delhi India for subsidised heart surgeries.

The trip to India has been made successful, thanks to donations made by people from different walks of life. Regency Medical Centre chairman Dr Rajni Kanabar says that the Lions club of Dar es Salaam in collaboration with Ministry of Health Zanzibar, and Satya Sai Society of Dar es Salaam are among those that have organised the trip.

This flight dubbed as 'New Lease of life' to 37 heart children is a part and parcel of celebrations of 50th anniversary of Lions club. According to Dr Kanabar, Regency Medical centre has facilitated the medical reports and other medical arrangements, while the ministry of Health Zanzibar has sponsored seven heart children along with air-fares of the patients and escorts.

"Narayana hospital in India has made prior meticulous arrangements for airport pick up and hospital admission of the 18 patients and arrangements for the stay of their escorts besides providing heart surgery at concession rate of 2,500 US dollars," he says. Dr Kanabar adds that Fortis Escorts Institute in New Delhi has also made some arrangements like those made by Narayana, where 20 patients shall be admitted.

Sri Satya Sai society Tanzania has 9 air tickets, while Sri Satya Sai hospital Heart Institute has promised to perform 10 free heart surgeries. He also thanked Chef Kapoor for donating 1,000 US dollars and presenting show at Serena Hotel. Mr Ranjeev Kapoor arranged fund raising in collaboration with Lions Club of Dar es Salaam where 23,000 US dollars was realised.

Other sponsors for the surgeries include Shivacom that has donated 2,500 US dollars for one heart surgery and 1,500 dollars for promotional advertisements. The Ministry of Health and Social Services has thanked the Lions club of Dar es Salaam for organizing the trip to India for children and adults suffering from heart complications. Speaking at the event, the Acting Permanent Secretary of that ministry Ms Regina Kikuli thanked all that have contributed in kind and cash for that noble cause.

"In the future we shall conduct such operations at the Muhimbili National Hospital, where about 100 patients may be admitted at once," said Ms Kikuli. Early this year, more than 75 children in Zanzibar between the ages of 1 and 16 with congenital heart diseases were sent to Narayan Hospital in India for free treatment. Zanzibar Minister for Health, Mr Juma Duni Haji, said that the treatment was sponsored by the government of Oman.

"We are thankful to the government of Oman for this support," said Duni adding that it is a relief to his ministry which has been receiving many requests from parents with children needing heart treatment. He told reporters that the children were selected after a brief two-day screening exercise by three doctors from Narayan at Mnazi Mmoja Hospital. Similar screening will be conducted in Pemba Islands beginning on Thursday.

The children under five years old travelled along with an attendant or family member, while children above 5 years of age are to be accompanied by a doctor from Zanzibar. "The sick children travelling to India will be given airfare along with accommodation. It is estimated that the treatment for each child will cost about 4,500 US dollars," the minister said. Mr Duni said the initiative was started last year and is aimed at saving children with heart diseases in Unguja and Pemba Islands.

"Hopefully it is going to be a sustainable project, we're planning to send more than 75 children from different parts of the Isles. But the first group of 10 to 20 children will be leaving for India next month," he said. People with disabilities still suffer from stigmatization and discrimination. "People with disabilities in Zanzibar still lack a voice. Even when they try to make their voices heard, their inputs are not taken into consideration," Saleh said.

He claimed further that even government orders that all buildings should have facilities that cater to the special needs of people with disabilities are not respected. "Reporters as professional communicators are in the position to shape public perception of persons with disabilities," Salma and Makame told journalists at a workshop yesterday.

"We hope the workshop will help reporters to promote respect for human rights of disabled persons. With more Tanzanians suffering from a variety of heart ailments and travelling abroad for treatment, India's Apollo Hospitals has already struck a pact to set up a 300- bed super-specialty hospital in Dar es Salaam. Apollo Hospitals Enterprises Limited, in the presence of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete have signed a signed a preliminary joint venture agreement with the Board of Trustees of Tanzania's National Social Security Fund and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare for setting up the hospital.

Initially, one hospital will be set up in Dar es Salaam, with a plan for Apollo Hospitals to send their doctors to train medical personnel in this country of 42 million people. The hospital will be completed in 18 months, said Reddy. The agreement evoked an enthusiastic response from the Tanzanian president, who made a speech to Apollo for opening five more hospitals in the country's other cities.

Thousands of Tanzanians still travel to India for low-cost treatment every year and the number is increasing. Heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Tanzania after malaria, claiming 287 lives a day or 104,755 lives a year, according to the Tanzanian Cardiac Hospital Foundation.

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