Well-wishers to raise 1bn/- for children with heart diseases

DAR ES SALAAM: A total of 1bn/- is expected to be raised by well-wishers to save the lives of 500 children suffering from pediatric heart disease at the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI) in Dar es Salaam.

The fundraising is expected to take place through a dinner gala organized by the non-governmental organization, Heart Team Africa Foundation, in partnership with the JKCI, on July 6, 2024, at the Johari Rotana Hotel in Dar es Salaam, where the retired Dr. Jakaya Kiwete is expected to attend as the guest of honour.

Addressing journalists in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday, JKCI Executive Director Dr. Peter Kisenge said the financial constraints facing about 80 percent of Tanzanians, who are struggling to cover the remaining 30 percent of medical expenses after the government’s 70 percent contribution, are denying them proper medical services.

He added that out of every 100 births, 1 child is born with heart disease, necessitating costly surgeries ranging from 4m/- to 11m/-.

“With JKCI’s capacity limited to 357 surgeries per year, urgent collective action is imperative to address this crisis,” he said.

Acting CEO of the Heart Team Africa Foundation, Lydia Vivian, said their aim is to raise 1bn/- to help 500 children get surgery this year, alleviating the financial burden on struggling parents.

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On his part, the Head of the Pediatric Cardiology Department at JKCI, Dr. Sulende Kuboja, acknowledged that the costs of pediatric heart services are too high, hence collective action is highly needed to save the future generation.

Available reports indicate that out of 1,000 births, 8 to 10 children have heart problems. For every 2 million births per year, approximately 14,000 children have heart problems, and a significant 4,000 will require surgery.

“However, our institution cannot perform operations on 1,000 children per year. Therefore, many Tanzanians are needed to contribute and help parents save the future generation,” he said.

Malicelina Atanasi, a resident of Morogoro whose child is receiving medical treatment for pediatric heart disease, said the cost of treatment is 1.8m/-.

“My family members were not ready to contribute to the service, hence they distanced themselves from this issue,” she said.

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