Kudzai Chikiwa, Chronicle Reporter
BULAWAYO Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Judith Ncube is engaging the Ministry of Health and Child Care to address the plight of local children suffering from heart complications who are forced to travel to Harare or overseas for treatment.
The Minister’s intervention comes a week after a four-month-old Bulawayo baby died after the child’s family failed to raise US$10 000 for the baby to undergo an emergency heart surgery in India.
Four other children are in a critical condition at Mpilo Central Hospital and their families are each battling to raise US$10 000 for them to be attended to in India before year end.
In an interview, Cde Ncube said she was moved by a mother who came to her and appealed to her to address the issue since families often fail to raise the needed money.
“My heart bled when I heard there is a group of almost 60 mothers whose babies are affected by this disease. As a mother I cannot just sit and watch while our seeds perish. I have already talked to (Health) Minister (Dr Obadiah) Moyo but I am yet to write a formal letter to him,” she said.
“I heard that there are Italian specialists who come to Mutoko thrice a year to do these operations and our people often go there. Unfortunately, we do not have such visits koBulawayo. I will talk to Dr Moyo if his ministry can arrange that these specialists also visit Bulawayo. At least it will lessen the burden of having to raise US$10 000 to go to India.”
She said while she is engaging the Health Ministry, it is the responsibility of everyone including the corporate world to join hands in raising funds to help these children.
“This is a serious issue robbing us of our happiness in this region and it touches everyone. I appeal to well-wishers to consider the plight of these mothers and help with funds. Let’s help each other because we are all humans and need each other. Especially women, I call upon you to put yourself in these mothers’ shoes. They feel the same pain you would feel if your baby is perishing in your hands,” Cde Ncube said.
She said she will arrange for the establishment of a provincial bank account that will be monitored by auditors for well-wishers to deposit their donations.
The Minister said mothers who need heart surgery funding for their babies will then approach her office to get some funding.
Babies in need of open heart surgery include Lungile Makhulumo (3 months), Blessed Katayi (2 years) and Buhlebenkosi Dube (10 years) who have Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) and ventricular septal defect (VSD).The other baby Raphael Munondwa (4 months) who he has Truncus Arteriosus, a rare type of heart disease in which a single blood vessel comes out of the right and left ventricles, instead of the normal two vessels.
In an interview, Ms Tendai Moyo the coordinator and founder of Brave Little Hearts Zimbabwe (BLHZ), a group that approached Cde Ncube could not hide her joy as she heard that the Minister is working on their issue.
“We approached her because we knew as a mother she will hearken to our cry. I started this group when I lost my 10- months-old baby Rudorwashe in January this year after failing to secure funds. I saw a need to advocate for these babies. I encourage all mothers out there who have not come along to tell their stories; to feel free to come and register their names so that we give the Minister a database,” she said.
Ms Moyo said through well-wishers they have managed to send two Bulawayo babies to Italy where they are being treated. Another baby Liam Kamili was diagnosed of atrioventricular septal defect (AVSD) and died while admitted to Mpilo Central Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit two weeks ago awaiting to go to India for a heart surgery.
Liam’s mother said they could not raise the money for their son’s surgery due to economic hardships.
“We faced many challenges since Liam was diagnosed, the obvious headache we had is the cash shortages and the need to buy the US$ at a high rate in the black market. It made me not to believe that one day I’ll take my son for surgery because I could raise US$10 000 dollars in this harsh economy,” she said while sobbing. — @tamary98