150 Uganda children to get free heart surgeries

Doctors_operating_a_patient_with_a_heart_problemA total of 150 children suffering from Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD), a fatal condition which damages heart valves, will receive free surgeries starting January next year.

The development comes after different rotary clubs including that of Kampala, Naalya, Mengo, Bukoto together with other international partners donated a $272,500 (about Shs1b) to the Uganda Heart Institute (UHI) last Friday.

Mr James Serugo, who represented the Rotary Club of Kampala, said under the grant, 30 children will receive open heart surgeries, 20, closed heart surgeries, and 50, interventional catheterisation procedures while government pays for other 50 cases.

“In addition, the project will enhance the RHD outreach and treatment programming in Gulu District which currently is caring for 200 RHD children,” Mr Serugo said on Friday at the event where the grant was officially handed over to UHI.

From 2012, officials at the UHI say, they have been compiling a registry where they store all information on patients with RHD and it is from this pool that they will pick the beneficiaries.

Dr Peter Lwabi, the UHI deputy executive director, said the registry now has more than 1,500 patients where priority is given to the pediatric group and that least one out of 100 children born have a heart problem.
Generally, the subsidised cost of each RHD procedure at UHI goes for $5000 (about Shs18m), considering that government and other partners pay for the utilities and labour, meaning it would be much higher in a private setting.

The heart institute carried out its first open heart surgery in 2007 and can now carry out cardiac procedures to more than 75 per cent of the children.

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