Over 100 on heart surgery wait-list
There are more than 100 patients on the wait-list for free heart surgery at Kigali King Faisal Hospital.
Dr Nathan Ruhamya, a physician and cardiologist at the hospital, said the country has been divided into four zones to simplify provision of healthcare and easy follow up for the patients with heart defects.
Clinics that handle the cases have been set up progressively in partnership with Partners in Health, which trained nurses and provided the necessary equipment.
Plans are underway to develop more such clinics in provincial hospitals and also train general practitioners who are interested in Cardiology, according to Dr Joseph Mucumbitsi, the Chairman of Rwanda Heart Foundation.
This follows conclusion of an outreach programme, where 17 patients underwent free heart surgery at King Faisal Hospital.
The surgery was carried out by Healing Hearts Northwest, a group of health care professionals from Spokane Washington, in partnership with King Faisal Hospital.
Ever since this programme begun back in 2006, with three volunteer teams, over 300 patients have benefited from the free services.
The Ministry of Health has earmarked about Rwf 30 million for this year alone, to facilitate patients with such complications, he said.
Dr Hal Goldberg, a Cardiologist and Director of Healing Hearts Northwest, finds the main cause of heart defects in Rwanda to be rheumatic fever resulting into rheumatic heart disease, caused by untreated strep, a bacteria in the throat.
Seven year-old Fidel Mihoza was born with a heart defect that was discovered at the age of two.
After his diagnosis from the Central Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK), four years ago, he’s been surviving on medication that he had to take four times a day, which was also very costly.
The medics at CHUK informed the mother, Immaculee Mahombi, 32, that her son needed heart surgery and had been on the wait-list since the age of two.
The cardiologists had advised that it was better for him to have the surgery at the age of seven for medical reasons.
Due to that heart condition, he has always been sickly, dizzy and could hardly walk all his life.
He has also never been to school due to the heart defect and the fact that his parents couldn’t sustain him through school.
“I am so grateful to Healing Hearts for having saved my son’s life. I am glad that he won’t have to live on medication anymore and hopefully he will start school like other children,” she said.
Healing Hearts Northwest is a group of health care professionals from Spokane Washington that is partnering with King Faisal Hospital to deliver cardiovascular care and also deal with prevention and early treatment of Rheumatic Heart disease in Rwanda.
The specialists have been coming to Rwanda every April since 2009 and have so far conducted surgery on over 50 patients with heart defects.
Goldberg added that the team is also involved in the training and teaching of Rwandan medics in general cardiac care and treatment for cardiac emergencies.
They also encourage participation of Rwandan nurses in post operative cardiac care to enhance intensive care skills and be able to do follow ups on the patients.
Similar operation in other countries can cost as much as $20,000.
In case there is need for referral, most of these cases are referred to India, Sudan or South Africa.
Contact email: maria.kaitesi[at]newtimes.co.rw