Monday, June 3, 2013

Muhimbili cardiac centre operations start in June

THE newly constructed cardiac centre at the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) is expected to open its doors to the public in June, the hospital management has confirmed. MNH Executive Director Dr. Marina Njelekela said in an interview in Dar es Salaam on the sidelines of a three-day exhibition that showcased various medical and health services   provided by the hospital. It was part of NMH activities to mark its 57 years of existence and 13 years since the facility was titled a national hospital. Exhibitions by MNH staff included medical practitioners showcasing various medical and health activities and how the hospital operates through its various units, with its medical facilities providing high technology diagnostic services. Dr Njelekela noted that preparations are underway to begin performing heart surgeries, as installation of surgery equipment is at the advanced stage at the new building. “We plan to reduce the number of people seeking cardiac related services abroad once the centre is operational,” the director noted. The construction of a cardiac centre in the country is in line with campaign promises by President Jakaya Kikwete in the 2005 polls, laying a foundation stone in 2008 for the building. Government efforts to put up an open heart surgery facility have continued for years, while Muhimbili hospital has been performing minor heart surgeries since 2008, with about 346 heart patients attended since then. Limited capacity to perform heart surgery compels serious heart problems to be treated abroad, particularly in India. The head of the cardiac surgery unit, Dr. Usiri Elijah said the cost for open heart surgery stands at Sh. 10 million regardless of age. The new facility with sophisticated equipment has eight patient beds remotely controlled at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the cardiac centre, and 96 beds to accommodate non-ICU admissions. Technicians are putting the final touches on installing heart surgery equipment, especially catheterization, part of whose function is to locate patients’ veins for conduct of operations. Looking at the high tech buildings and equipment at Muhimbili National Hospital, it is hard to believe that Tanzania’s premier medical institution started out as a simple structure built along the coast of the Indian Ocean. Sewahaji Hospital, as it was known then, took eight years to build—from 1893 to 1905. Soon enough, though, the hospital along the coast of the Indian Ocean had to grow to match the needs of the population. In 1945, the colonial government built a smaller hospital within Muhimbili that came to be known as Makuti. It was so called because most of the buildings were roofed with coconut leaves. The Muhimbili buildings were constructed from in 1954, and on October 11, 1956, Princess Margaret—the second daughter of King George II—laid the foundation stone of the hospital and officially opened sections that were already completed. The hospital’s name was changed to Princess Margaret Hospital and it was upgraded to a referral and training centre.  There would be more name changes—when it became Muhimbili hospital with independence in 1961 and when, in 1976, it was re-baptized to Muhimbili Medical Centre. The MNH Act of Parliament No 5 of 2000 gave it the name Muhimbili National Hospital. It even got an extension in the form of the Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences, now the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences. Every name change marks a milestone in the hospital’s growth. The hospital started with only four buildings—Sewa Haji, Mwaisela, Kibasila and management building, but now there are 10 big buildings, a hospital brochure notes. The services have grown too, including a fast track system in which patients are attended by the same doctors but are admitted at the private wing.

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