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Italy, Zambia collaborate for heart surgery

VISITING Italian cardiac surgeon Dr Carlo Massin (left) and University Teaching Hospital senior medical superintendent Dr Ben Chirwa visit one of the patients who recently underwent cardiac surgery led by the former, during a conducted tour of the Intensive Care Unit yesterday. PICTURE: STAFRANCE ZULU

THE collaboration between Italian cardiac surgeons and the Zambian government will soon see indigenous doctors performing open heart surgery after undergoing training, Ministry of Health director in charge of clinical care and diagnostic services Kennedy Lishimpi has said.
Dr Lishimpi said while Zambia trains general surgeons, the government has employed only one cardiac surgeon and has attached two general surgeons for the purpose of learning.
Dr Lishimpi said this yesterday at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) shortly after witnessing open heart surgery performed by an Italian doctor Carlo Massini sponsored by an Italian non-governmental organisation (NGO), Mission Bambini, in collaboration with a Zambia-based Italian NGO “We for Zambia”.
“We want to use this opportunity to train Zambians and the Ministry of Health is very supportive of this project. We have a lot of talented young men and women who can be trained. At one point, we should be able to carry out these surgeries on our own,” Dr Lishimpi said.
Italian ambassador to Zambia Filippo Scammacca, who also witnessed the open heart surgery on a child, promised to do his best to enhance co-operation between Zambia and his country by finding resources for the cause.
“It is extremely emotional to be here. We have witnessed Italian and Zambian doctors working together to save lives of children. This is indeed a gift of life,” Mr Scammacca said.
And Dr Massini, the Italian cardiac surgeon who has so far operated on two other children, Gift Namwila, an 11-year-old girl, and David Chilufya, 6, said his team of doctors is passing on the skill to the Zambian doctors.
Dr Massini said his team, which includes Zambian doctors, carries out an average of one to two operations daily mainly due to the shortage of water at UTH.
“We carry out about seven or eight operations per week because water is sometimes a problem. But the most important thing we are doing is to pass on our knowledge so that after two or three years, the local doctors can take it up on their own,” he said.
Dr Massini and his team of seven other doctors, two nurses and a technician will come back in November for more operations.

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