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Mulago gets open-heart surgery equipment

By Vision Reporter

Added 14th September 2008 03:00 AM

THE Uganda Heart Institute (UHI) recently received medical equipment worth sh3.2b to improve the capacity to perform ‘sustainable’ open-heart surgery.

THE Uganda Heart Institute (UHI) recently received medical equipment worth sh3.2b to improve the capacity to perform ‘sustainable’ open-heart surgery.

By Irene Nabusoba

THE Uganda Heart Institute (UHI) recently received medical equipment worth sh3.2b to improve the capacity to perform ‘sustainable’ open-heart surgery.

Dr. Tom Mwambu, a consultant cardiologist at the Mulago Hospital-based facility, says the donation is a major development, especially for the upcoming annual Open-heart Surgery Week slated for October 6-17.

“We have all the equipment needed to safely conduct open-heart surgery. We just need the consumables,” says Mwambu

It was donated by his Highness Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the crown prince of the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It includes 17 cardiac beds for nursing heart patients; six ventilators to help a patient breathe after surgery; 16 invasive monitors for monitoring a patient during and after surgery and 16 syringe pumps.

Others are a modern echo-cardiology machine, three operating lights, an endoscope machine and two electric tables used during an operation.

“The equipment has helped us set up an intensive care unit with 12 beds (four surgical, four medical and four beds), equipped with monitoring, life support equipment and mobile x-ray machines,” says Dr. John Omagino, a consultant surgeon.

Omagino, also the deputy director at the institute, says they have also established an operating theatre.

The project not only involves the supply of equipment, installation and training of end users, but also a resident biomedical engineer for two years to ensure that the equipment is functional.

He says the donation addresses almost all the equipment requirements for open-heart surgery and answers the mandate of Mulago referral and teaching hospital as a tertiary centre for provision of super specialised services to reduce referrals abroad.

Since last year the hospital has been carrying out selective kinds of heart surgery which are costly, but with the new equipment, they will carry out open-heart surgery on patients, including the poor.

However, Omagino says the institute urgently needs 30 nursing staff to run the units.

Mwambu substantiates:
“We have skeletal staff. The biggest draw-back is nursing care particularly in the intensive care unit. These patients call for close monitoring. It should be one nurse per patient but this is a nightmare. We do not have professional nursing care staff countrywide.

“What happens, like in the coming open heart surgery week, is that the other staff double as nursing care staff. This sets back other departments,” he says.

The Government has promised sh2b to cater for specialised sundries and consumables, plus other operational costs necessary for open-heart surgery.
This also includes training of more staff. Unfortunately government interventions are often delayed by bureacracy.

“We have partnered with friends to make sure that our 12-14 day open-heart activities stay on course,” Mwambu reveals. “We have 15 cases for open-heart surgery, up from seven cases of last year’s 10-day activities.

But we shall also have other heart surgeries because there are so many cases.”

Mwambu says this year, they have reported over 360 cases in children since January. “By the end of the year, it could reach 600. Every year the population is increasing, so are the new cases diagnosed,” he says.

Mwambu advises people to look out for warning signs of heart ailments so that the cases can be handled in time.

He points at prolonged chest pain, repeated coughs that do not seem to respond to treatment, inactive children, while some do not grow well and are smaller for their age.

Mulago gets open-heart surgery equipment

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