EAST Africans who suffer from cell damage related diseases may soon start receiving permanent treatments from Tanzania.
As Dodoma-based Benjamin Mkapa Hospital (BMH) finalises procedures to introduce bone marrow transplantation services this year, another private firm—IPP Research, Technology and Innovation Limited—yesterday announced plans to introduce stem cell treatment in the country.
If all goes well, Tanzania may become the first country in East Africa to offer the treatments.
Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Deputy Minister Dr Faustine Ndugulile said in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the government in collaboration with the private sector have been increasingly improving health sector in the country.
He said increasing of age related diseases needed the application of new technologies like stem cell therapy.
Dr Ndugulile was speaking at the official opening of the international conference on stem cell in the city, yesterday.
The diseases, which are mostly treated through the bone marrow transplant, include leukemias, anaemia, lymphomas, multiple myeloma and immune deficiency disorders.
Stem cell therapy also treats sickle cell anaemia, damaged brain, paralysis and other diseases that cause physical disorders.
BMH Managing Director Dr Alphonse Chandika, speaking with the ‘Daily News’ over the weekend, boasted that the public health facility will be the first in East Africa to offer bone marrow transplant services.
The facility will effective next year start treating children with sickle cell through bone marrow transplant before moving to other diseases.
“We have decided to come up with permanent solution to this ailment because drug use is just meant to relieve sufferings and patients use the drugs for the rest of their lives…it affects household economies due to excessive spending time and resources to send their children to hospital,” Dr Chandika said.
Currently, there are only 10 centres that provide bone marrow transplant services, six of them in South Africa and the other four in Nigeria, Tunis and Morocco.
University of Monza’s Prof Cornelio Uderzo is technically assisting BMH to prepare infrastructure for the bone marrow transplant services.
He arrived last week to conduct ‘Needs Assessment’ of the infrastructures to enable the facility to embark on the transplantation.
“You need this kind of treatments to move from an old era treatment of the diseases …we want to rescue patients from deaths,” said Prof Uderzo.
Meanwhile, the IPP Limited unveiled its plan to introduce the stem cell therapy in the country, with the laboratory based in Dar es Salaam.
IPP Limited Executive Chairman Reginald Mengi, speaking to reporters in the city yesterday, appreciated the government cooperation, saying the project implementation is expected to start next month.
Stem cell therapy, also known as regenerative medicine, promotes the response repair of the diseased, dysfunctional or injured tissues using stem cells or their derivatives. It is the next stage in organ transplantation and uses cells instead of donor organs whose supply is limited.
“We take cells from other part of the body and put them into the damaged areas like the brain…the beneficiaries of this treatment have no other option,” Director of Neorogen Brain and Spine Institute in India Dr Alok Sharma said at the press conference.