Heart disease organization petitions parliament

The Chronicle

Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, Senior Health Reporter

BRAVE Little Hearts, an organization that cares for children born with heart conditions in Zimbabwe, has called on parliament to address the challenges faced by those affected as they struggle to access health services. Statistics show that one in 100 births is a child born with congenital heart disease (CHD), which translates to approximately 4,550 children born each year with heart disease.

Most children are born with a heart condition characterized by a large hole in the center of the heart, which allows blood to flow between the four chambers. The condition can be corrected surgically but services are not available in local public health systems. Symptoms include abnormal heart rhythms, bluish skin, shortness of breath, inability to feed or grow normally, and swollen tissues or organs.

Mpilo Central Hospital

Treatments include medications to lower blood pressure and control heart rate, heart devices, catheter procedures, and surgery. Health experts say people born with the condition may not live to be five years old if no intervention is done to save their lives. In one of its interventions, the government set up a Pediatric Cardiac Center at Mpilo Central Hospital last year in September, but to date, no surgeries have been performed so far due to the lack of of equipment.

In a petition, the organisation’s director, Ms Tendai Moyo, said the portfolio committee on health and childcare should hold hearings and inquire into the state of treatment for pediatric heart disease in Zimbabwe. .

“We, the undersigned parents of deceased children living with cardiovascular disease, are concerned about the high mortality rate of our children. Our children are dying of conditions that could be surgically corrected if caught and treated early,” Ms Moyo said.

“Most of the children diagnosed are referred to South Africa or India, a cost out of reach for many families. Patients referred overseas face a huge financial burden, paying over US$30,000 for the medical procedure and airfare. Children who do not have access to healthcare have difficulty surviving beyond the age of five.

The petition also called on responsible authorities to provide hospitals and clinics with child-friendly infrastructure, equipment and human resources for an internationally renowned cardiac care facility.

“We need the government to promote early diagnosis and proper medical treatment for people with congenital heart disease in the community. Information on congenital heart disease for research purposes in communities should also be disseminated for early intervention purposes,” Ms Moyo said.

According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report, at least 40 babies from Bulawayo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Midlands provinces died of heart defects last year. [email protected]