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9 Nigerians benefit from free heart surgery

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By Chioma Obinna
As you read this article, nine Nigerians are recuperating from a life- saving heart surgery at the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery, at the Blue Nile area of Khartoum, Sudan courtesy  Kanu Heart Foundation (KHF) and a non governmental Organization, NGO – Emergency Italy – world wide.

Before now, they had a difficult time seeking help which came by way of  Emergency Italy – World wide, which approached KHF for partnership on a free heart surgery in Sudan.

The partnership had been in the incubator  for over a  year but got a break through in May 2009 in England when both parties finally agreed to collaborate in a partnership arrangement where 50 heart patients from KHF will receive free open heart surgery annually in the Salam Center for Cardiac Surgery, at the Blue Nile area of Khartoum, Sudan.

Coordinator,  KHF, Deacon Abia Onyebuchi Abia, in a chat with Good Health Weekly, in Lagos said most of the states approached for assistance has not shown commitments except states like Delta, Lagos, Rivers States.  Abia who decried that most Nigerian children are coming down with heart diseases said the Foundation within its nine years of activities has on its waiting list over 500 heart patients and most of them are children.

Worried about the alarming figure,  he called on state governments to stop paying lip services to health issues. “It is unfortunate, that most states are not showing concern.

He said during a summit KHF had with the Imo State government in  October 2008, the Foundation made a case for  45 heart patients from the State for which the Governor approved N3.6 million. “We have operated six of the patients discovered from that summit in the state even though we are yet to receive the money.

Lamenting the  epidemic proportion  assumed by heart diseases Abia said there was need for more understanding and commitment from government circles on the plight of the people particularly as it concerns health. Commending the governments of Delta, Rivers and  Lagos States, he said their governors are examples of people who practicalise what they preach. “Lagos has been doing well.

The State government donated N2 million to the Foundation to help in a book launch tagged “Straight From the Heart.”

He further disclosed that the Rivers State government is partnering with KHF for another health mission in Nigeria.

Already seven cardiac specialists are coming in to look at the facilities they have in Port Harcourt this week.

Stressing the need for an effective cardiac centre in Nigeria, he said the nine patients would  have required a minimum of $72,000 for surgery.  “Let there be commitment to towards heart problems. We need to start operating here our government should do something about health workers.  In Sudan, we had one patient to one nurse. The nurse resumes there and closes there every day.

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