BY FARAI MATIASHE

CARDIAC patients in the country face an uncertain future because private medical facilities are selling medical necessities such as electrocardiogram (ECG) and echocardiogram (ECOs) in United States Dollars (USD) or in RTGS$ equivalent to the US dollar.

Cardiac patients are people with a cardiovascular disease which refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain or stroke, coronary artery disease, chest discomfort and congestive heart failure.

ECG and ECOs are pegged at US$240 and are required once a year for heart patients and regularly if one’s condition is unstable.

In Zimbabwe, cardiac tests in public hospitals are done only at Parirenyatwa, Harare Central and Mpilo Central hospitals against a population of more than 13 million, forcing many heart patients to seek services in private institutions and out of the country.

These patients came together and formed an association, Zimheart Trust established in 2017 and registered it in 2018, to source funds for those due for heart surgeries in countries like India and South Africa.

Addressing a Zimheart get-together event in Harare recently, physician Golden Fauna said there was need to provide support to people diagnosed with heart problems from the people who would have passed through such a situation other than doctors.

“There are certain things that health care professionals cannot do and one of them is to regularly communicate with patients in a clear manner such as patient-to-patient.

“Often when us doctors tell a patient about diagnosis a lot is lost in translation because our understanding of a medical condition is different from a patient. This is the role this organisation will play,” he said.
Fauna urged Zimheart Trust to provide support to people who are affected with heart diseases and to provide guidance in terms of how to approach certain decisions and processes towards treatment.

“Apart from providing a supportive role, I hope that this trust is going to be a key stakeholder in health care policy formulation, in advising especially giving a perspective in what challenges people with heart problems are facing,” Fauna said.

Zimheart Trust co-founder Farai Chirikure said after their interactions with heart patients and guardians they created the formal organisation to share their experiences and lobby for assistance.

“We have so far assisted several people with counselling and a little bit of funding. Our main objectives are to develop programmes and strategies to enable, empower, motivate and develop medical professionals and health care providers in the public and private sectors in the pursuit of objectives of this trust,” he said.