SAVING HEARTS IN TANZANIA: Country’s first pediatric heart surgeon aims to make a difference

Tanzania, one of the world’s least developed countries, is struggling to meet the basic healthcare needs of its 45 million strong population. The major health threats are malaria, tuberculosis and HIV-AIDS. The government, supported by aid organizations, is chipping away at the country’s health challenges one disease at a time and sometimes one doctor at a time. The human development index ranks Tanzania at 152nd out of 187 countries worldwide in terms of life expectancy, education and income. A majority of the country’s people live on less than a dollar a day.

In the healthcare sector, the doctor patient ratio is alarming: one per 30,000. Congenital heart disease in children often goes untreated.  There aren’t enough doctors or medical resources and parents who can’t afford costly procedures stand by helplessly as their children suffer. One doctor is hoping he can make a difference. Dr Godwin Godfrey trained in Israel and is Tanzania’s first pediatric cardiologist, he has returned home to treat children in his country.

During hands-on studies in Israel, Dr Godwin Godfrey treated children from Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and Tanzania hailing from families who can’t afford a meal a day, let alone costly heart procedures. A team of Israeli medical professionals affiliated with Save a Child’s Heart organization travelled to Tanzania to support Godwin with his first operations.

 The doctor’s biggest fear is that  after half a decade spent in intense specialization training, Tanzania’s lacking infrastructure, funding and medical equipment may prevent him from doing his job. Follow the man and his team as they set out on their mission.