Reporter- Lovemore Lubinda

Majority of Zimbabweans requiring open heart surgery, are finding it hard to get this specialised medical attention, over the years those who can afford had to visit countries like South Africa or India for the services.

Speaking at a hand-over ceremony of financial support to the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals (PGH) from the National Oil Infrastructure Company of Zimbabwe (NOIC) recently, Health Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa said the situation of Zimbabweans having to seek such medical attention was not pleasing as most had to die.

He said open heart surgery is very expensive, and patients had to fork out up to US$30 000 to get medical attention in countries with specialists and enough resources to carry out the operation.

He said the situation was made worse when the country stopped open heart surgeries in the year 2000 due to lack of foreign currency needed to buy consumables and to repair open heart surgery equipment mainly the heart-lung machine.

“The termination of heart surgeries in Zimbabwe meant that patients had to either die at home, or seek medical attention outside the country. Most citizens cannot afford and as a result had to die at home,” he said.

He thanked NOIC for committing about US$350 000 towards the programme to fund open heart surgery, to be administered at PGH, adding that it will go a long way in easing the situation.

He said this donation will see over 50 open heart surgery patients benefiting countrywide, and urged other corporate entities to emulate the NOIC gesture.

Meanwhile, medical research has revealed that heart ailments are the number one cause of death globally, than any other disease.

Dr Parirenyatwa said one in 100 children is born with congenital heart disease in Zimbabwe, and cardiovascular disease has the second highest non-communicable disease mortality rate after cancer.