VP calls for ramping up efforts to address NCDs

ZANZIBAR: VICE-PRESIDENT Dr Philip Mpango on Friday officiated at the official opening of the heart conference here with a call for concerted efforts to address the worrying increasing of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) cases in Africa, particularly heart complications.

“This attendance demonstrates strong international interest and commitment to advancing cardiovascular care. Experts in this room will undoubtedly condution that will ultimately benefit cardiovascular patients here in Tanzania and other countries around the world,” he said in his speech at Golden-tulip Hotel- Airport.

Speaking on behalf of President Samia Suluhu Hassan, he said the conference has been convened at a very critical time when cardiovascular diseases are at the top of causes of deaths in the world (WHO), and that it is estimated that cardiovascular diseases account for 7-10 per cent of all adult hospital admissions in Africa, with heart failure accounting for about 3-7 per cent.

Dr Mpango said that despite this, few countries are adequately equipped with drugs for cardiovascular disorders due to relatively high prices of drugs and cost of transportation to respective centres “I hope that this conference will come up with innovative solutions and ideas for combating this problem; thus, contributing to improving the overall health outcomes for our people,” the VP said.

He explained that Tanzania, like many other countries in Africa, is faced with high prevalence rate of cardiovascular diseases and other NCDs.

“Presently, the prevalence of high blood pressure for people aged 25 and above, ranges between 30 and 40 per cent,” he said.

Dr Mpango said, in response to this situation, several preventive measures and care have been taken by the government to deal with cardiovascular cases.

“They include: strengthening of the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI) through establishment and strengthening of surgical services including open heart surgery. Undertaking strategic health research to find solutions to health problems facing citizens and acquiring scientific and reliable information to inform policy decisions; and educating and sensitising Tanzanians on prevention and management of non-communicable and other rare diseases, are other measures.

The Vice-President poured praise to the JKCI for performing well in managing cardiovascular cases and that during the initial years of its establishment, the institute was able to perform only 200 cardiovascular procedures annually.

He said that currently the institute performs surgery to more than 800 patients annually, including open heart surgery and more than 2,000 catheterisation procedures, some of which are complex and done in very few countries in Africa.

“More than 200,000 patients are attended to annually, out of whom, 2,400 or more are from neighbouring countries including Comoro, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia,” he said He explained that this has made the JKCI a leading public cardiac institute in Eastern and Southern Africa thus attracting participants from neighbouring countries such as Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia for mentorship opportunities.

Dr Mpango informed the gathering that through JKCI, the government has managed to make a huge saving of approximately 63bn/- per annum, saying prior to establishment of JKCI, the government used to spending around 74bn/- per annum for cardiovascular related referrals abroad.

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