HEART failure has been cited as one of the major killer diseases in Tanzania in recent times. This reality has prompted the Aga Khan Hospital to establish the Heart Smart camp. On Thursday last week, three medics from the hospital said that the camps, that will be convened twice, will help to create awareness amongst community members.
Speaking to journalists they informed us that the first camp is scheduled to take place from 17th April up to 8th May, from 8. a.m. to 2p.m.. These occasions will be used as avenues for conducting medical examinations but also for convening physicians in Tanzania and their colleagues from neighboring countries. They said that the camps are intended to promote the message that community members should take care of their heart, due to the essential role the heart has in the human being’s body.
Dr Mustaafa Bapumia, consulting cardiologist and chairman of the association of physicians, East Zone, said that heart diseases are not given due importance because of the fact that they re not infectious, although they are inheritable. “We have organized such camps in order to bring more awareness to people, because a good number of them are under the illusion that there is only one heart disease, high or low blood pressure, commonly known as BP,” said Dr Mustaafa. He said that the fact is there are many types of heart disease, and there are many factors which can cause heart diseases which should be known and handled properly by community members. He mentioned cigarette smoking, alcoholism, and obesity amongst the main causatives of heart disease. He said that some fetish lifestyles also could cause such problems. He warned however that the age factor should be given due importance when considering heart problems. He said that 45 percent of people above 50 years of age have heart problems in various forms.
“We have embarked on an artificial lifestyle – you realize that people do not take regular bodily exercise, they do not control their diet, they use vehicles even for short distances, that is unhealthy for the heart,” he said. He said that with such habits people make themselves vulnerable to high blood pressure, so he advised regular physical check-ups. He explained that through such check-ups the symptoms could be diagnosed at an early stage before further damage occurred. He said that the awareness created would help to change the attitude of the authorities, so that heart disease would be given due importance just like HIV/Aids, malaria etc. Dr Wilfred Kaizelege, who is a family physician, supported him saying that the Aga Khan Hospital has been inviting specialists from other hospitals regardless of their backgrounds, whether from the government or the private sector, with the aim of exchanging views and comparing experiences. Dr Kaizelege said that, apart from those who have been diagnosed with HIV/Aids there are those who undergo paralysis due to a stroke, but similarly their relatives always associate such occurrences with witchcraft. He condemned such outdated beliefs as they retard the effort to treat health problems with modern medicine, which he described as a product of evidence-based research.
He said strokes are always a culmination of a long-term process, avoidable if the victims were to take precautionary measures in time. He therefore asked community members to get regular medical check-ups, including this one which is targeting 500 people. He said that there have been many attempts domestically and internationally to rescue people from the dangers of heart disease, but these efforts are at times hampered by communication breakdowns or contingent medical expenses. Recent research has indicated, he said, that BP is one of the biggest killer diseases, but statistics are either not well coordinated or some of those used by the relevant authorities are outdated. For her part, Ms Lucy Hwai who is the Aga Khan Head of Nursing saidthat professional counseling is a very important component of the treatment for heart-disease victims, prior and after medical examination. She said that this is because of the fact that some patients lose hope once they are diagnosed with such a problem, a situation which tends to accelerate the deterioration of their health. She emphasized that the counseling component is so important because it means that heart patients will be able to remain emotionally stable while they will still take the basic precautionary measures necessary for heart patients. She therefore commended social counseling as a lifetime treatment for those who have been diagnosed with heart problems.
She said that, instead of giving up, heart patients should attend regular counseling sessions which are available in many major hospitals, including theAga Khan Hospital.In the concluding remarks, Dr Mustaafa said that physicians haveestablished their journal which can be read by people from all walks of life, regardless of their professional background; he attributed the success of the product to the supporting role of Dr Johnson Lwakatare. Dr Mustaafa thanked the many networks which have been formed in order to assist heart patients, like the European Society of Hypertension, and the World Health Organization which has been the custodian of such efforts. The Express managed to contact Dr Lwakatare, who unfortunately could not comment at length as he was caught up in the middle of a teaching session.
Source: The Express