Tanzania launches heart treatment procedure

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DAR ES SALAAM-Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) announced on Tuesday it will officially start offering treatment for coronary artery diseases through stent implants into an artery, a procedure  similar to angioplasty.

The initiative to save people at risk of heart attack related deaths is the first in the country, treatments started on Monday after two successful stent implants.

Muhimbili Hospital has so far carried out heart care and treatment to 453 patients and Dr Evarist Nyawawa, Cardiothoracic Surgeon and Head of Cardiac Surgery said the cost to replace valves at the hospital is between Tz Sh 1.8  and 2 million while for referrals abroad it costs about $15, 000 (about Tz Sh 25 m).

Meanwhile, Prof Mohamed Janabi, Cardiologist and Head of Cardiac Department told a press conference that the new service was started with the help of a team of specialists from India and the United States.

He said with the operationalisation of the facility, he was optimistic it will reduce the number of people being referred abroad for similar medical treatment.

“We had the equipment installed two years ago. However, it was unfortunate that we had to refer patients abroad for treatment that we could not undertake,” he said.

He said the team of specialists, both active and retired coordinated by Madaktari Africa, will help to carry out similar services to at least 18 patients.

“The specialists also include four from Bugando Medical Centre,” he added.

Prof Janabi also warned the public against eating junk foods, improper diet and lack of exercise, saying these exacerbate coronary artery diseases.

Depending on the artery blockage and attendant requirements, a patient can be charged between USD600 and USD2500 per stent.

Dr Mullasari Ajit, Cardiology Director at the Madras Medical Mission in India said technology had helped reduce the risk of heart related diseases.

Dr Peter O Brien from Centra Health, Lynchburg, Virginia-USA said the specialists were very happy to help Tanzania set up the infrastructure and also to train local doctors in these procedures.