Tanzania Conducts its first ever series of Coronary Artery Bypass Graft surgeries

The first ever heart bypass surgery in the East African Region has been conducted in Tanzania, courtesy of Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI) and a team of doctors from a leading Indian (New Delhi-based) BLK Super Specialty Hospital – a blessing in disguise for 18 patients battling cardiac complications.

According to a cardiologist at the JKCI, Dr Bashir Nyangasa, heart by-pass surgeries allow doctors to operate on the heart of a patient as it beats, unlike the standard one where doctors are forced to stop the patient’s heart until the surgery is completed.

Before the new technology for treating people with heart complications, the JKCI used to conduct surgery by using a heart lung machine that forces cardiologists to stop patients from breathing until the process is completed.

The visiting team and doctors from JKCI started offering by-pass surgery at the country’s leading cardiac centre in Dar es Salaam yesterday — and the two-day joint exercise is expected to be accomplished today, according to Head of the Cardiology Unit at the JKCI, Dr Peter Kisenge. Dr Kisenge told a news conference in Dar es Salaam yesterday that within two days, his institute would help the country to save 180m/-, which would have been spent by 18 patients if they opted to travel outside the country for treatment.

Instead of sawing the breast-bone apart, surgeons can now simply bore two holes through it and put the by-pass in place. The entire operation lasts about 60 minutes and the patient can be discharged on the following day.

The Executive Director of JKCI, Professor Mohammed Janabi, said that as of Tuesday, about 12 patients with heart ailment had been operated and that they were responding to treatment well. The pilot exercise is targeting 18 patients, according to him.

At the same time, JKCI and BLK Super Speciality Hospital signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a partnership to share the vast experience across specialties and to build healthcare capacities locally.

To achieve this, the New Delhi-based hospital intends to provide training to doctors from Tanzania in the Indian capital and regularly send teams of eminent doctors from India to Tanzania to work with a team of cardiologists at JKCI as well as perform complicated surgeries.

“Technically, we are far beyond other countries in the provision of health care and we have been providing at least 3,000 open heart surgeries a year. Therefore, we are optimistic that the Tanzanian doctors will be able to learn more from us as we will similarly be able to learn as well from them through this partnership,’’ said the Chairman and Head of Cardiology Heart Centre at BLK Hospital, Dr Subhash Chandra.

According to Dr Kisenge, for the third time, specialists from both countries continued performing Balloon Mitral Valvotomy (BMV). Besides the BMV, both teams performed interventional procedures at JKCI in October last year.

All the procedures were performed in partnership, as part of an effort for JKCI and BLK Super Specialty Hospital to work together to build capacities in cardiology in Tanzania. BLK Super Specialty Hospital has so far expressed commitment to work in partnership with hospitals across Africa to share its vast experience across specialties to build healthcare capacities locally.

Sources: BBC & Daily News Tanzania

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