The Heart Team, a US-based humanitarian non-governmental organisation, has announced plans to open a cardiovascular treatment facility in Rwanda.
According to Dr Joseph Mucumbitsi, a paediatric cardiologist, the facility will be located at Kicukiro District hospital, in Masaka.
The development follows a memorandum of understanding reached between the NGO and the Ministry of Health last year.
“The team has been providing support for especially the youth with heart diseases on humanitarian basis. So it is committed to building a cardiac excellence centre that will treat cardiovascular, rheumatic heart diseases and other lifestyle diseases,” Mucumbitsi said.
Fund-raising drives are ongoing for the $10 million project whose construction is expected to start in 2017.
The facility in expected to start treatment between 2018 and 2019, according to Mucumbitsi.
“The centre will provide service for all patients on a daily basis…it will carry out surgery, prevention and follow up on patients,” he explained.
Besides treatment, he said the centre will offer training to cardiologists, nurses, paramedics, physiotherapists, surgeons, anesthesiology, among others.
Mucumbitsi decried the shortage of cardiologists, paediatricians and general doctors in various health facilities.
However, some doctors are being trained in South Africa and the current skills gap is expected to be covered over the next four years.
The cardiac care centre, he added, will be independent but following regulations set by the Ministry of Health.
“We estimate that given the population of our country, out of every 20,000 people, a half or a third of them need surgery. Culinary artery diseases are also on the increase,” Mucumbitsi said without giving figures.
Jean Paul Iyamuremye, is one of 430 patients who have benefitted from the Heart Team and other foreign experts over the past eight years.
Iyamuremye, a taxi driver in Kigali, who was operated on blood vessels after being examined by the Heart Team experts in 2008, recalls the experience he underwent.
“The experts first provided me with counseling. I am a living testimony of what they can do, they repositioned my heart,” he said.
Iyamuremyi said his health has improved ever since the operation was conducted.
“I had shrunk to 50kg but today I have added 26kg. At the time of operation, I had lost hope of living and could not do anything. However, after six months, I regained, I started eating and drinking normally. Now I am able to do several activities as long as I take medicine as prescribed by medics,” he explained.
Opening the fourth conference of the East Africa Healthcare Federation (EAHF), last week, Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi urged the private sector, in partnership with governments and other health based organisations and development partners, to play a critical role in the implementation of national healthcare programmes, including quality clinical services, health insurance schemes, health infrastructure, equipment and their supply,