600 adults on Zim’s open heart surgery waiting list

WITH Zimbabwe set to resume its open-heart surgeries on Thursday, there are about 600 adults waiting on the line alongside 4 000 children who are waiting to receive this operation.

By Kuda Pembere

Speaking with HealthTimes, specialist cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon Dr Simukayi Machawira said every year, about 4 000 children in the country are born having a heart condition.

What I can tell is that roughly we have about 600 adult patients on the waiting list. As for children, there are about 4 000 children born with a heart condition in Zimbabwe requiring such an operation but most of them have been dying because the open-heart surgery was not available in Zimbabwe,” he said.

This procedure has not been available in Zimbabwe since 2018.

“The excitement is quite high because this is a service that people will be accessing in their own country. We will be saving the people the stress of having to go to India and then in some cases the child might die there resulting in complications to repatriate the body,” Dr Machawira noted.

With this procedure done in Zimbabwe, the country could save up to USD50 000 per person seeking a surgery in South Africa, and USD 20 000 in India.

“I think the last time this procedure was done in Zimbabwe, it was about USD12 000,” he said.

Depending on complexity of the case, most procedures can last between three to four hours but some more complicated cases have been known to go up to 16 or 18 hours.

“Our team for this programme is very large, at any one time we are looking at between 20 to 30 people for us to have successful outcomes. Bear in mind that there is complex machinery that is used and we have personnel that prepares the patient before surgery, personnel that is involved in the operating itself and this patient after surgery goes to the intensive care unit where they are monitored 24 hours a day so they will need a lot of personnel to take care of them,” said Dr Machawira was quoted as saying.

The personnel needed includes anesthetists, cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons. In nursing care, there are floor nurses who see the patients as they come into the ward, then the theatre nurses take over during the surgery after which the intensive care nurses take care of the patients.

Other disciplines integral to performance of the surgery include the laboratory, radiography, pharmacy and rehabilitation, among others.

Parirenyatwa is the sole institution with the ability to provide open heart surgeries in Zimbabwe.

“But our wish is to see all the major cities being able to do open heart surgeries, that way we can give meaningful service to the population because as it is we are just doing the bare minimum that can be done,” Dr Machawira said.


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