BY NKOSENTSHA KHUMALO
BULAWAYO hospitals’ incapacity to handle heart ailments has prompted Brave Little Hearts Zimbabwe (BLHZ) to lobby government to support children diagnosed with congenital heart diseases.
While Mpilo Central Hospital opened a cardiac unit to cater for children with heart problems in September last year, the hospital reportedly breached a three-year contract with BLHZ when the cardiac unit was turned into a COVID-19 isolation centre.
Mpilo Central Hospital acting chief executive officer Solwayo Ngwenya, however, said the hospital was unable to take care of children with heart diseases due to lack of resources.
BLHZ founder and executive director Tendai Moto said this resulted in children with heart diseases failing to access basic care.
“This comes at a time we are trying to raise awareness on heart diseases in our nation as a whole so that we can get inclusivity into the National Health Strategy and have a national registry to show the demographics of the prevalence on this disease,” Moto said.
“We plead with government to intervene and provide basic care for these children, a specialised unit where they will be well taken care and can have access to surgeries.”
Moto emphasised that a specialised unit was urgently required specifically for children with heart diseases because their immune system was already weak and at high risk due to COVID-19.
She pointed out that the fact that patients with heart diseases are admitted into other wards opens them up to infections such as flu, which would affect their recovery.
“It is our plea and prayer that children’s lives should not be taken for granted, but with the urgency and care that they deserve. The government also needs to raise awareness on this disease as it is globally a number one birth killer and many children will die if the nation does not take steps to ensure that the disease is known.
“Even as we are lobbying the government to partner us in this initiative of raising awareness and early intervention, we are pleading that compulsory oximeter reading becomes the norm on our children’s health cards so that they are quickly diagnosed rather than for them to be given wrong medication from birth,” she said.
Bulawayo provincial medical director, Marphios Siamuchembu said hospitals currently do not have special units for people born with heart diseases. He said hospitals deal with them on a case by case basis.
“I know that the ministry is committed to improving the care of patients with non-communicable disease. In reality this care is on paper and nothing much has changed in terms of resources available to the ministry, which are actually dwindling,” Siamuchembu said, adding that there was need for human resource development so that the country has specialists who deal with non-communicable