Relief for heart patients

Nyemudzai Kakore Herald Correspondent
Heart patients who have been forking out thousands of dollars to travel for surgery outside the country could soon be treated locally following revelations the procedure will be done here starting next month.

Heart surgery was stopped in 2003 due to financial constraints, but a team assembled to perform the procedure at Parirenyatwa Hospital said yesterday it was ready for the job.

Addressing health officials at the commissioning of open heart surgery equipment at Parirenyatwa, consultant, cardiothoracics and vascular surgeon team leader, Dr David Chimuka, said they had decided to resume operations to provide the service to ordinary Zimbabweans who cannot afford to go abroad for treatment.

Dr Chimuka appealed to government to scrap the tender system in the procurement of heart diseases equipment, saying the process was complex, leading to avoidable loss of lives.

“Our team should’ve the privilege to be provided with what we need at the right time,” he said. “There’s no way we can wait for a tender process which lasts for six weeks to be processed. If we need any equipment, it must be bought without going to tender because we lose a lot of lives in the process,” he said.

“This is because the heart is an important organ as it’s the only organ which supplies blood to all body cells and every other organ is dependent on the heart. It’s the only organ which can continue to beat without anybody’s support,” said Dr Chimuka.

The heart project will see 150 open heart surgeries being performed this year against a total of 400 patients who are on the waiting list. The project will save huge sums in foreign currency as cardiothoracics patients will no longer need to travel to South Africa, India and Western countries for operations. Parirenyatwa Hospital managed to perform 460 open heart surgeries between 1995 and 2003 before the department was closed.

The heart lung machine and accessories, all worth $300,000, were sourced from Medtronic in South Africa.

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