Global medical devices company, Medtronic Africa announced a long-term partnership with Parirenyatwa Hospital to bring back cardiac surgery that has been absent in Zimbabwe since 2003. Medtronic will supply critical equipment needed in cardiac surgery, as well as ongoing training and sourcing of expertise to assist in complex surgeries, to the Parirenyatwa Hospital, College of Health Science. In turn, this partnership brings relief for the 400 people on the waiting list for life-saving heart operations.
The hospital received equipment worth $300 000 on a loan basis from Medtronic in January.
The equipment includes a heart-lung machine, which temporarily takes over the function of the heart and lungs during surgery, heater/cooler device for temperature control, an Activated Clotting Time (ACT) device to prevent blood clots, and an autoLog Autotransfusion (cell saver) System, which enables patients to receive transfusions with their own blood during surgical procedures.
Due to the country’s economic challenges, heart surgery came to a halt in 2003, forcing patients to travel abroad. The privileged who could afford it, would travel abroad for treatment in other countries, but the vast majority of patients were unable to do so.
“We lost at least half of the people who needed surgery during that time – all unnecessary deaths,” said Dr David Chimuka, Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeon at the Parirenyatwa Hospital.
His distress at the untenable situation led him to begin a search for a long-term loan of capital equipment.
Working together with the Zimbabwean Government including the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, various other stakeholders, and Parirenyatwa Hospital, Medtronic was given the mandate to run with its concept that would allow patients in Zimbabwe access to sustainable high quality cardiac surgery.
William Stranix, Sub-Saharan Africa Country Director for Medtronic, said: “At Medtronic, we believe that no one can solve the world’s healthcare challenges alone. We work on collaborating to create strong partnerships like Parirenyatwa Hospital to ensure that we can provide quality healthcare to more people. We hope that this partnership can be mirrored in other organisations in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa to provide sustainable access to the underserved and improve patient outcomes. We aim to find new ways to create powerful solutions that drive clinical and economic value.”
The first paediatric operations have been successfully performed, and it is hoped that 150 surgeries on children and adults will be performed annually.
“We estimate that our cost of procedures will have come down significantly which is a dramatic saving for Zimbabweans,” Dr Chimuka pointed out, adding that the Zimbabwe Heart Foundation is being formed which will help to raise funds for indigent patients.