Zimbabwe’s Parirenyatwa Hospital Resumes Free Open-Heart Surgeries

May 15, 2024
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Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare has resumed offering free open-heart surgeries, aiming to address the significant backlog of patients in need of treatment. Led by veteran cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon Dr. Wilfred Muteweye, the team has already performed open-heart surgeries on nine patients in the first quarter of this year. They are optimistic about reaching their target of treating 60 patients by the end of the year.

Dr. Muteweye expressed confidence in the team’s progress despite facing challenges in acquiring necessary consumables. He noted that they are gradually increasing their capacity and efficiency, with plans to eventually perform two surgeries per week. The team has been conducting one open-heart surgery case per week in recent weeks.

The initiative is part of efforts by Zimbabwean cardiac specialists to significantly reduce the backlog of patients in need of treatment. Prior to the resumption of these services, patients had to travel to other countries, such as South Africa, India, and Kenya, to undergo open-heart surgery, often at great expense.

The government has been providing support for the initiative, ensuring that patients do not have to pay for the surgeries. Plans are also underway to start performing open-heart surgeries for children, with a target start date of July-August. This expansion of services will further enhance the hospital’s capacity to address the growing demand for cardiac care in Zimbabwe.

The history of heart operations in Zimbabwe dates back to 1959, with the first reported case of open-heart surgery conducted by Dr. NJ Micklem and Dr. GVS Wright. Over the years, various local and international teams have contributed to the development of cardiac surgical capabilities in the country.

Despite facing challenges, including a lack of foreign currency to purchase necessary consumables, Zimbabwe has persevered in its efforts to provide life-saving cardiac care to its citizens. The recent resurgence in local surgical capacity marks a significant milestone in the country’s healthcare system, ensuring that more patients have access to essential medical treatment close to home.

As cardiovascular diseases continue to be a leading cause of death globally, initiatives like the one at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals play a crucial role in addressing the growing burden of heart-related illnesses. By expanding access to quality cardiac care, Zimbabwe is taking important steps towards improving the health and well-being of its population.