TANZANIA— The Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI), has reported that in the fiscal year 2022/23, it helped the Tanzanian government save more than US$ 12 million in outbound medical tourism.

JKCI is a National Specialized University Teaching Hospital offering cardiovascular care, training, and research services.

The Institute has a 103-bed capacity attending on average 700 outpatients per week and serves patients from across all regions of Tanzania who are referred from regional referral and designated hospitals for cardiovascular medical intervention.

Speaking with journalists in Dar es Salaam, JKCI Director Dr. Peter Kisenge said during the year, the institute treated 2,760 patients at a cost of US$12M but if they were treated abroad, it could have cost the government a whopping US$25M.

Dr. Kisenge attributed the success to efforts by the sixth phase government led by President Samia Suluhu Hassan, whereby JKCI received us$17.3M for the 2022/23 fiscal year, the money which was used to conduct several development and cardiac treatment-related activities.

Dr. Kisenge revealed that the institute served a total of 122,362 patients, of whom 111,542 were adults and 10,820 were children.

He noted that since its establishment, the number of foreign patients at the JKCI has been on an increasing trajectory.

During the year under review, a total of 301 patients from outside the country received care at JKCI.

“The patients came from Somalia, Malawi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Comoro Islands, Ethiopia, Burundi, and other nations outside of Africa, such as Armenia, China, India, Norway, the United States, and England,” Dr. Kisenge explained.

Speaking about ‘Dr. Samia Suluhu Hassan Outreach Services’, Dr Kisenge said so far, the institute has carried out testing and treatment of heart diseases for citizens by following them where they were in the various regions, including Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Coast, Arusha, Geita, Iringa, Mtwara, Lindi, Unguja, Manyara and Pemba.

“Through this program, 6309 residents were reached; 3239 of them received diagnoses for cardiac-related diseases, and 724 of them were referred to JKCI for further treatment,” Dr. Kisenge expounded.

Similarly, Dr. Kisenge said that for the 2023/24 fiscal year, the institute has allocated US$27M for the implementation of various tasks specified in the Work Plan and particular budget.

This budget is expected to impact the Institute’s priorities including improving heart disease treatment services, purchasing medical equipment, and modernizing facilities to enhance citizens’ access to healthcare.

He urged the public to change their lifestyle by embracing physical exercises, focusing on a healthy diet, abstaining from smoking and drinking too much alcohol, and monitoring their blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and body fat levels to prevent cardiac illnesses.

JKCI to start heart transplants soon.

The Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute has started initial preparations for heart transplants and expects to start performing the operation in the country in the next five years.

The move comes five years after Tanzania started performing kidney transplants at Muhimbili National Hospital.

Plans that will be implemented with the budget include educating their professionals and officially starting preparations for heart transplants to be offered within five years.

Since everyone has one heart, the Director for Cardiovascular Medicine at JKCI, Dr Problema Waane said for someone to donate his/her organ to another person, there are many preparations that need to be made.

“There is personal information in the entire system of emergency services in order to be able to find those contributory patients (donors) who may be giving or donating their hearts to other people,” said Dr Waane.

Dr. Waane, who is also a cardiologist, said that in developed countries, some of their citizens, who are not sufferers, donate their heart organs after giving permission.

“They give permission that when they have some health problems that can cause them to be unable to continue living, they allow the various organs of their bodies to be donated, it could be the kidney, heart or liver,” said Dr. Waane.

Dr Kisenge said that the JKCI also offers research training and serves five hundred outpatients each passing day and those who are admitted per week are 130.

He said that the number of patients undergoing major open chest surgery, blood vessels, and lung surgery per day is numbering six.

“Through the Cathlab machines, 14 patients are examined per day and have their blood vessels of the heart opened and fitted with cardiac assistive devices,” Dr. Kisenge said.

The health institution head committed that JKCI would strive to provide high-quality affordable cardiovascular care to patients.

Moreso, by facilitating sustainable delivery of tertiary cardiovascular care services, and super-specialized postgraduate courses in the fields of cardiovascular medicine and offering a conducive environment for internationally acclaimed cardiovascular research.

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