By NANCY SIAME
ZAMBIA Medical Association (ZMA) president Aaron Mujajati says over 400 patients with heart conditions are on the waiting list to be sent abroad for specialised treatment.
Dr Mujajati said Government spends close to US$1 million annually to send patients for treatment abroad because the country only has one heart surgeon.
He said in an interview yesterday that the burden of heart and other non-communicable diseases still weighs heavily on the country.
â€œSeveral patients knowingly or unknowingly continue living with various forms of heart disease. We acknowledge the need to address immediate problems in this manner but we also note that it is not sustainable,â€ he said.
Dr Mujajati said a lasting solution should be found for this problem.
â€œWe believe that the effort to find solutions should not be left to Government alone,â€ Dr Mujajati said.
He said Zambia has trained one heart surgeon, who has acquired skills to operate on the heart and another is still in training.
â€œWe also have in our ranks a surgeon, who has been trained to conduct kidney transplants,â€ he said.
Dr Mujajati said these highly trained and sought after individuals are in the country and they should be used while they still have the desire to serve their country.
He said the demand for these skills is very high and two doctors are not enough to meet the demand but that it is a very good start, which Government must be commended for.
Dr Mujajati said the country needs more specialists in these fields in order to effectively serve the people.
He also said there is need to train more nurses, perfusionists, cardiac anesthesiologists and to construct a modern intensive care unit (ICU).
â€œYes the needs are too many and expensive but we need to start from somewhere,â€ he said.
Dr Mujajati said the human cost is too high to spare expenses.
â€œBesides, when it all comes down, any expenditure on the survival of our people is not a cost but an investment,â€ Dr Mujajati said.
He said heart surgery needs a robust critical care unit in order to succeed.
Dr Mujajati said the countryâ€™s intensive care services at national level are not up to internationally accepted standards.
â€œTo start with, the University Teaching Hospital is probably the only institution which has an ICU that we can even begin to talk about but it has less than 15 beds for the over three million people in Lusaka, let alone the 14 million inhabitants in Zambia,â€ Dr Mujajati said.
By NANCY SIAME