The Uganda Heart Institute(UHI) has said that it is struggling with a many cases of patients in need of heart-related surgeries that have piled up over time amidst limited resources and supplies.
As the country joined the rest of the world to mark International Heart Day, the executive director of the institute, Dr. John Omangino, noted that even with the best equipment and human resources, the facility may still be too expensive for the majority of patients in need of care.
According to the Ministry of Health, cardiovascular diseases accounts for 17.3 million premature deaths and this is expected to rise to 23 million deaths by 2030.
Hypertension causes more than 500,000 deaths per year, according to Omangino.
Currently in Uganda, every 1 in 4 adults have high blood pressure and it is also estimated that of the 1.6 million babies born every year, 1% (16,000 babies) suffer from congenital heart disease. Half of this number (8,000) is serious enough to warrant intervention.
“The truth is that it [heart surgery] is an expensive service. If you have heart surgery at the institute it is $ 5000,” he said.
Causes of many heart related conditions are known and preventable. These include; poor lifestyle, lack of adequate exercise, smoking tobacco, excess drinking of alcohol and poor dieting.
“Heart diseases are very expensive to treat, so prevention is better than cure. The biggest proportion of the population doesn’t know that they have hypertension,” said Omangino.
He noted that through raising awareness such as commemorating scientific / virtual World Heat Day 2021 under the theme “Use Heart to Connect “Several Interventions that target diagnosis and treatment are done through the Uganda National Health Referral System and the Uganda Heart Institute.