Mission: Tanzania

Mission Facts

  • Location: Dar es Salam, Tanzania

  • Population: 0

  • Dates: 10/01/2017 - 10/15/2017

  • Surgeons: Dr. Salvatore 'Sasha' Agati

  • Focus: Cardiac/Interventional Cath Surgeries

  • Complexity: Very High

  • Training: Very High

Mission Brief

Where in the World
Tanzania is located in the eastern region of Africa. It is bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north; Rwanda, Burundi, and the Republic of Congo to the west; and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the South. The population of Tanzania is about 47.4 million and 45% of the population are children between the ages of 0-14. The population distribution of Tanzania is extremely uneven with most people living on the northern border or eastern coast. Many Tanzanians live on an equivalent of less than a dollar a day.

Healthcare in Tanzania
Healthcare in Tanzania is not accessible to the entire population. It is only available to those who have income. Health insurance has only been recently introduced, but it is very limited and does not attend to the needs of the majority of Tanzanians, particularly those outside of urban areas. For a population of almost 50 million people, there are only approximately 800 qualified doctors in entire the country. This patient to doctor ratio is among the worst in all of Africa.

The Children
According to UNICEF, the under-five mortality rate in Tanzania is strikingly high at 81 deaths per 1,000 live births. The infant mortality rate is 51 per 1,000 live births.

Tanzania is making considerable progress in the reduction of child mortality due to the government’s commitment to increase use of key health interventions. These include sustained high coverage of under-five immunizations, Vitamin A supplementation, insecticide treated bed nets, and better treatment for malaria.

Tanzania has a high prevalence of congenital heart diseases. In a research study conducted at the Bugando Medical Center between October 2012 and January 2013, 29% of infants enrolled in the study had high prevalence of congenital anomalies. This Mending Kids mission will provide both open-heart surgeries and training in order to create a sustainable program for the cardiac needs of children in Tanzania.

The Mission
This Mending Kids cardiac/cath mission to Tanzania will take place from September 8-19, 2016 in collaboration with the surgical team from Bambino Gesù Ospedale Pediatrico in Italy and the Muhimbili Hospital in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. This mission will be led by pediatric cardiac surgeon, Dr. Salvatore (Sasha) Agati, and by pediatric interventional cardiologist, Dr. Evan Zahn. The goal is to provide life-saving open-heart surgeries for up to 15 kids and interventional procedures for 20 kids, including training for local cardiac surgeon, Dr. Godwin Sharau, who just completed five years of training in Israel. Dr. Sharau is the first Tanzanian surgeon to focus solely on pediatric cardiac surgery.

Since 2015, Mending Kids has worked with Dr. Sharau and his team at JKCI, to screen and diagnose hundreds of children, while providing over 80 life-changing procedures. These mission support Dr. Sharau with a safety net of expert surgeons, for him to operate on increasingly complex cases. The team performed the first Truncus case in Tanzania, between the 2016 mission visit, Dr. Sharau and JKCI provided over 100 life-saving surgeries to children without assistance of Mission teams; slowly increasing their capacity and build goals.

Striving to be more impactful, Mending Kids is partnering with Australian based, Open Hearts International and Israeli based, Save A Child's Heart to deploy additional missions year round for years to come. This partnership not only empowers Dr. Sharau but also encourages the Ministry of Health in Tanzania to allocate additional funds for pediatric cardiac care at JKCI as it takes greater strides to become a Center of Excellence for the region.

This leads to not only providing safe surgeries for Tanzanian children, but to helping children from neighboring East-African countries gain access to surgical care as well. During these missions, MK has helped children from Uganda, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Please join us from October 1-15, 2017 to help us reach our goals!

Interested Volunteers
Non-surgical team volunteers are currently being recruited for this mission. If you are interested in volunteering, review our FAQ section (click the Get Involved tab, then Mission Volunteer button) and then contact molly@mendingkids.org. The team fee for this mission is $5000 and will require a deposit of $500 to hold your spot.

Make a difference and donate now to mend the heart of a child waiting for surgery in Tanzania.

Mission Map