25 January 2018

Tanzania: Expectant Mothers Urged to Undergo Fetal Test

WITH Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI) successfully performing cardiac catheterisation to 15 children, specialists have asked expectant mothers to undergo fetal echocardiography to enable children with heart defects to receive proper treatment at an early age.

The lifesaving catheterisation and cardiology clinic for children was conducted in collaboration with Save a Child's Heart (SACH) from Israel and Berlin Heart Centre from Germany.

Cardiac catheterisation is a procedure used to diagnose and treat cardiovascular conditions. During the procedure, a long thin tube called a catheter is inserted in an artery or vein in groin, neck or arm and threaded through blood vessels to the heart.

Addressing reporters in Dar es Salaam yesterday, JKCI Director of Cardiology, Dr Peter Kisenge, said the procedure was conducted during a special clinic that started on January 20 and is scheduled to end today.

"Treatment conducted during the procedure totally clear blocked heart arteries and expand some of the veins for children aged one to 18 months," he noted. Dr Kisenge said the clinic coincided with the examination of heart ailments for 32 children where 20 of them will undergo treatment in the clinic and 12 others will be attended by local surgeons starting next week.

He said the plan was to perform catheterisation to 20 children, with the first 15 children who received other treatments having been discharged. SACH Executive Director, Simon Fisher, said over the past three years the institute has led nearly 10 missions to Tanzania, providing lifesaving pediatric cardiac care to dozens of children suffering from heart disease.

"The German foundation Ein Herz fur Kinder have to date supported hundreds of life saving procedures on children suffering from heart disease at our centre in Israeli and have supported two German-Israel medical missions to Tanzania," he said.

Fetal echocardiography is a test similar to an ultrasound that allows doctor to better see the structure and function of the unborn child's heart. Paediatric Cardiologist, Dr Naiz Majani, said greater number of children born with heart problems have had their cases determined at a delayed stage, leading to more problems while growing up.

Dr Majani said the test can be performed between 18 to 20 weeks of pregnancy and that some developed countries have begun treatment to the unborn babies. She said by end of 2016, the institute had begun to perform the test of which out of 35 pregnant women, five unborn children were diagnosed with heart problems. All mothers were put under special care until they delivered their babies and one children among them died due to certain complications.

"Many pregnant women are hesitant to undergo the test, but this is very crucial as it will be easier to make follow-up and provide care as soon as possible instead of waiting until the baby has grown up," said Dr Majani.

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