Health MEC Botha: Partnerships Make Paediatric Cardiac Surgeries Possible | Western Cape Government


Health MEC Botha: Partnerships Make Paediatric Cardiac Surgeries Possible

18 November 2010

Since January this year a total of three hundred and thirty (230) cardiac surgeries were performed at Red Cross War Memorial Childrens Hospital - an average of twenty-three (23) per month. Despite this achievement, there are still more than two hundred (200) children with congenital heart disease on the waiting list, Western Cape Health Minister said today at the hospital.

Minister Botha was the key note speaker at a media event of the Walter Sisulu Paediatric Cardiac Foundation, introducing the specialist cardiac surgery bed that was donated to the ICU of the hospital.

Botha paid tribute to the late Walter Sisulu, as well as the work of his wife, Albertina Sisulu, for her role in the achievements of the Foundation. The Foundation is the largest philanthropic paediatric cardiac centre on the African continent, and raises funds for life-saving cardiac intervention to indigent patients across Africa who would otherwise not have access to treatment.

In his address Botha said one (1) in every one hundred (100) children born world-wide, suffers from congenital heart disorders - ninety-five percent (95%) of which can be corrected. At present fewer than twenty percent (20%) of children in South Africa, and less than one percent (1%) of children in the rest of Africa benefit from corrective cardiac surgery. Access to treatment is costly. Sadly, without treatment these children die.

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the commonest lethal congenital defect and most significant non-communicable disease in sub-Saharan Africa. School populations give low CHD estimates, because without treatment many die early. Survivors are often unable to attend school. With only minor variations, CHD incidence is constant worldwide, irrespective of socio-economic conditions. Of the approximately fifty (50) million children born live annually in Africa, as many as five hundred thousand (500 000) have significant CHD, with an additional pool of older children and adults who have survived the early years.

Minister Botha said: "Provincial government is extremely grateful for the support of the Walter Sisulu Paediatric Cardiac Foundation. Government is unable to carry the costs of health on our own."

The network of organisations and people who help each other, solve problems together and who produce together, is to the benefit of the people who has the greatest need. Its up to government to offer the framework and the systems to become a real team, but without the private sector we cannot achieve the increase of wellness, he continued.

Last year Dr John Hewitson, principal specialist, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, UCT, who serves on the Paediatric Cardiac Society of South Africa's (SAs) executive committee, made recommendations to the Foundation to spend money to improve the ICU capacity at Red Cross War Memorial Childrens Hospital, to use the hospitals extra operating capacity. Through funding of one extra ICU bed for three (3) days a week, thirty-three (33) more patients have had corrective cardiac surgery since April 2010. The potential is for fifty (50) more patients per year to have corrective cardiac surgery.

Issued by:
Theuns Botha
Western Cape Minister of Health

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