Tanzania: Cardiovascular Centre Planned for Northern Zone

THE increasing cardiovascular diseases (CVD) call for proper diagnosis as well as consequent treatment.

Nobody could do better than putting in place facilities to offer the services.

Researches have shown that Tanzania, like any other country, is experiencing a rapid growth of modifiable and intermediate risk factors that accelerate CVD death and illnesses.

In rural and urban settings, cardiovascular risk factors such as tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet, hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, overweight and obesity are documented to be higher.

Increased urbanization and lack of awareness have been found to increase CVD risk factors in Tanzania. Despite the identification of modifiable risk factors for CVDs, there is still limited information on physical inactivity and eating habits among Tanzanian population that needs to be addressed.

In overview, CVD describes a range of conditions that affect the heart. Under the heart disease umbrella are included blood vessel diseases, such as coronary artery disease; Heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias) and heart defects that one is born with (congenital heart defects) among others.

CVD refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke. Other heart conditions, such as those that affect one's heart's muscle, valves or rhythm, also are considered forms of heart disease.

Many forms of heart disease can be prevented or treated with healthy lifestyle choices. A solution to a problem involves constructing a course of action that transforms one's situation into one where their objectives are achieved.

As such, the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) Referral Hospital has been proactive to address the cardiovascular challenge, as it has been to many others.

After being the first hospital in the first hospital in the country to conduct Open- Heart Surgery and later the services interrupted, now the zonal referral hospital has come up with a major plan to construct a Cardiovascular Centre.

That will be of a great relief to northern zone residents, as well as those from neighboring regions and countries. KCMC Referral Hospital Executive Director Dr Giliard Masenga says that completion of the Cardiovascular Centre whose foundation stone was laid recently by a deputy minister of state, would improve heart and related treatment services.

Due to the rise in CVD patients need to access services from specialized departments for prevention, diagnosis, management and rehabilitation of the diseases related to the cardiovascular system.

Dr Massenga discloses that cardiovascular diseases have been on the rise in recent years prompting the institution to think of handling the big number of patients including children who report to the hospital to seek treatments concerning the problems.

He notes that the project was being implemented by the KCMC Hospital in collaboration with the Government of Tanzania, the Netherlands- based organization ZGT Overseas, the United States-based Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation and other health sector stakeholders from inside and outside the country.

KCMC performed the first open heart surgery in the country in October 2004 that was done by the hospital's surgeons led by Professor Samuel Chugulu in collaboration with heart surgery specialists from the United States who were led by Dr Duane Cook under the sponsorship of the US-based Rafiki Foundation.

It is after KCMC that other big hospitals such as Benjamin Mkapa Hospital in Dodoma and the now trending Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI). With such hospitals or specialized centres or departments, the country will be saving a lot of money that would otherwise be used to treat its citizens out of the country.

Apart from high medical costs, there are costs related to people who accompany the patients out of the country. Dr Kajiru Kilonzo is the Head of Internal Medicine at KCMC. He reveals that upon completion the new Cardiovascular Centre will have a 100-bed capacity and also an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) with a 16-bed capacity for heart patients.

"The theatre at the newly established centre will make it possible to provide 400 heart problem related surgeries a year as well as 1,200 cardiac cauterization services annually," he says, adding that the services at the centre are ex pected to commence in 2023.

The introduction of the Cardiovascular Centre, apart from moving the heart treatment services closer to almost 15 million persons in the Northern Zone regions and those from neighboring countries, it will reduce bed congestion in other departments of the KCMC Hospital.

The Deputy Minister in the President's Office, Regional Administration and Local Governments (Health), Mr Josephat Kandege, hails the KCMC Hospital for its plans to introduce the new services that will complement the Government's efforts to provide quality health services.

Mr Kandege expresses optimism that the new services will provide solution for patients who wait for long time with heart problems.

"May I take this opportunity to thank all the donors and other stakeholders, both inside and outside the country who have and continue to facilitate the KCMC referral hospital's good efforts; may I take this opportunity to assure you of the Government's continue support to make all your efforts successful", they were his words on the day he laid foundation stone of the Cardiac Centre.

The Head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) who doubles as the Chairman of the Good Samaritan Foundation (GSF) that owns and runs the KCMC Hospital, Bishop Dr Frederick Shoo, thanks the Government for the support it provides to the hospital.

He says the new Cardiovascular Centre Project is the hospital's extra milestone as far as its services are concerned. He pledges that the ELCT through the GSF will provide 1bn/-to improve cardiac services at the hospital upon completion of the construction.

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