Free heart surgeries for Busoga children

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Free heart surgeries for Busoga children
Jinja regional referral hospital.

Jinja Regional Referral Hospital (JRRH) has partnered with Uganda Heart Institute (UHI), to hold a five day cardiac surgeries for infants with heart complications.

The surgeries which are the first of their kind outside Kampala shall see 11 children between the ages of seven months to five years get operated on free of charge.

The Director Jinja Regional Referral Hospital Dr Alfred Yayi says the Uganda Health Institute (UHI) Executive Director Dr. John Omagino has assembled a team of 20 specialists to work closely with another set of experts at JRRH for the landmark medical activity that will end on Friday  June, 21, 2024.

"These are children born with heart defects like holes which require highly trained cardiologists together with support staff from here who have already started the surgeries,” Dr. Yayi disclosed.

The minors were identified by Dr. Emmanuel Tenywa a cardiologist attached to Jinja regional referral hospital.

As part of his training and work, Dr Emmanuel Tenywa has been carrying out echocardiogram, usually shortened as “echo” for congenital heart defects in infants.

There are many children in Busoga who require the services of cardiologists but many are suffering in homes with no hope but left on the mercy of God.

Emphasizing that the exercise is free, Dr. Yayi says it’s in line with the vision and mission of Jinja Regional Referral Hospital, of being a regional centre of excellence in providing specialized and general health services for improved well being of the people of Busoga.

"The mission is to increase access to all people in Busoga sub region to quality general and specialized health services based on their mandate to provide specialized and general health care, conduct training, research and support supervision to other health facilities in the region to improve quality of services."

The Uganda Heart Institute was established as an autonomous body by an Act of Parliament (The Uganda Heart Institute Act, 2016).

The institute is now a super specialized leading provider of cardiovascular services and the only national referral facility for heart diseases in Uganda.

Using a modest investment and an enabling legal framework, UHI has trained cardiac super specialists and installed a state of the art cardiac catheterization laboratory and operating theatre which have enabled them to conduct groundbreaking surgeries and interventions of world class.

In order to improve access to heart care, UHI is developing capacity to operationalise regional centres in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Regional Referral Hospitals, hence the Jinja case now.

About 1% of children born in Busoga have heart related problems which require surgery.

Records available show that the region records about 200,000 births annually, meaning 1,000 of these children suffer congenital heart diseases; hence the need for a regional heart institute to be able to adequately handle the ever swelling cases.

It’s not yet clear why more children are being born with congenital heart complications, but experts think genetics, certain medical conditions, some medications and environmental or lifestyle factors such as smoking may contribute.

Research activities are ongoing, since there are also numerous types of heart defects.

Heart surgery is one of the most expensive medical treatments which Ugandans who can afford have been flying their patients to India, South Africa or other European countries with better health facilities

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